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First Conditional

for real possibility

If I win the lottery, I will buy a car.

We are talking about the future. We are thinking about a particular condition or situation in the future, and the result of this condition. There is a real possibility that this condition will happen. For example, it is morning. You are at home. You plan to play tennis this afternoon. But there are some clouds in the sky. Imagine that it rains. What will you do?

if condition result
  Present Simple will + base verb
If it rains, I will stay at home.

Notice that we are thinking about a future condition. It is not raining yet. But the sky is cloudy and you think that it could rain. We use the Present Simple tense to talk about the possible future condition. We use will + base verb to talk about the possible future result. The important thing about the first conditional is that there is a real possibility that the condition will happen.

Here are some more examples (do you remember the two basic structures: [if condition result] and [result if condition]?):

if condition result
  Present Simple will + base verb
If I see Mary, I will tell her.
If Tara is free tomorrow, he will invite her.
If they do not pass their exam, their teacher will be sad.
If it rains tomorrow, will you stay at home?
If it rains tomorrow, what will you do?
result if condition
will + base verb   Present Simple
I will tell Mary if I see her.
He will invite Tara if she is free tomorrow.
Their teacher will be sad if they do not pass their exam.
Will you stay at home if it rains tomorrow?
What will you do if it rains tomorrow?
Sometimes, we use shall, can or may instead of will, for example: If it's sunny this afternoon, we can play tennis.

Mini Quiz

1. The first conditional is used if there is _______ that the condition will happen.

no possibility
little real possibility
a real possibility
a) no possibility b) little real possibility c) a real possibility

2. "If we _______ free, we'll go with you." Which is correct?

had been
a) were b) are c) had been

3. "We'll win if we _______ well enough." Which is correct?

had played
a) play b) playing c) had played

Your score is:

Correct answers:

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