We use the first conditional to talk about real or possible future situations, to make predictions, offers, suggestions, etc.
- If you eat that, you will be sick.
- If she needs a car, she can borrow mine.
- I’ll stay at home if it rains.
The structure of the first conditional is:
If/when + present simple – will + infinitive.
The “If-clause” is the conditional clause and the other clause(s) is the “main clause” (or “result-clause”) which tells the result.
It is not unusual to use the first conditional structure with: in case, unless, as long as, as soon as instead of “if”
- In case you don’t get back by 10, I’ll call the police.
- We’ll go for a walk unless it rains.
- We will start eating as soon as Juli arrives.
- As long as you lie to me, I’m afraid I won’t be able to help you.
Note: use a comma at the end of an if-clause when an if-clause is at the beginning of the sentence.
The First Conditional vs Zero Conditional
We use zero conditional to describe general situations such as laws of nature and permanent truths, while first conditional describes a particular situation.
- I always go out with my friends if I finish work on time. (a general habit)
- If I finish work on time, I’ll go out with my friends. (particular situation)
- If you exercise, you burn fat. (law of nature)
- If you exercise, you will burn fat. (particular situation)
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