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Present & Future Real Conditionals

Stating facts and predictions

 

bee pollen  pesticide
         A bee with pollen – A person spraying pesticide
 

 

Present and Future Conditional Statements

PRESENT

In a present conditional construction, the main clause states a fact or observation that depends on whether the action happens first. The present tense is used in both clauses.                                                                                                                                

PRESENT CONDITION FACTUAL EFFECT

If people use pesticides in their gardens,  

they harm bees.  

 cause-effect fact 

If a bee collects pollen from a flower,

the bee also collects pesticide with the pollen.

If a large number of bees die,

the colony collapses.

FUTURE

In a future conditional construction, the main clause states a prediction depending on whether the action happens first.  The simple present tense is used in the clause after if, and a modal (will, can, may, might, shall) is used in the main clause.

FUTURE CONDITION PREDICTED EFFECT

If there are no bees,

flowers will not be pollinated.

prediction

If we can find out why bees are dying,

we can save the bees. 

If we don't find a solution,

bees may disappear.

 

colony – a group of bees and the queen

collapse – fail, die off

harm – hurt

pesticide (N) – a chemical substance used to kill insects and small animals that destroy crops

if — heads an adjunct prepositional phrase that takes a clause (and a few other word forms) as its complement. The condition "clause" is actually a prepositional phrase (PP). Call me if you are ready. Call me if necessary. I rarely, if ever, call them..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Punctuation

Commas

bee collecting pollen
A bee pollinating a flower
 

 

Initial or Final Position

INITIAL-POSITION  

commaA comma separates the condition, a prepositional phrase headed by if, from the main clause when it is placed before the main clause.

PP – CONDITION EFFECT CLAUSE

If you want local bees to survive,

use less toxic pesticides. 

If you don't believe me,  

ask any beekeeper.

FINAL -POSITION

no commaNo comma is used when the adjunct prepositional phrase with if is placed after the main clause.

EFFECT CLAUSE PP–CONDITION

Use less toxic pesticides

 if if you want local bees to survive.

Ask any beekeeper

 if if you don't believe me. 

 

survive (V) – to continue to live after an accident, war, or illness

toxic (Adj) – poisonous, or harmful

beekeeper (N) – a person who takes care of bee hives (boxes where bees live)

if — heads an adjunct prepositional phrase that takes a clause (and a few other word forms) as its complement. The condition "clause" is actually a prepositional phrase (PP). Call me if you are ready. Call me if ready.

 

 

 

 

Other Conditional Expressions

Should and Happen

 

 

 

Should / Happen

IF ... SHOULD

A verb expression such as should or should happen can be used in the content clause after if to express that something is unlikely to happen if by chance.

CONDITION CLAUSE EFFECT CLAUSE

If you should see my phone,

please let me know.

If  she should come by, 

call me.

If you should happen to arrive early,  

wait for me.

IF ... HAPPEN TO

Similarly, a verb and infinitive expression happen to can be used in the content clause after if to express that something is unlikely to occur if by chance.

CONDITION CLAUSE EFFECT CLAUSE

If  you happen to see my phone,

please let me know.

If  she happens to come by,

don't let her in.  (unlikely)

 

 

 

Also see: Omitting If  If / In case

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polite Conditionals

Will in the clause after if

 

 

 

Request vs. Wish

REQUEST

Will in the main clause expresses a future condition . However, will in the clause after if expresses a request for someone¹ to do something. "If you are willing to…"

IF CLAUSE MAIN CLAUSE

If you will step this way please,  

(I will show you to your table.) 

If  you will kindly wait a moment please.

(then I will help you.)

If  you will give me a moment,

I'll be right with you.

If he* will walk this way, please.

1st or 3rd person is not used

WISH

Will in the clause after if expresses an indirect request or a wish, a situation slightly more likely to happen (optimistic) than when using If only (a regretful wish).

IF CLAUSE PREDICTED EFFECT

If  he will just try a little harder,

he will succeed.  (wish)  / If only he would try harder... (regret) 

If  she will only listen a moment,

I could explain myself.    / If only she would listen ... (regret) 

If  you will just take moment to think it over,

you will understand better.  (wish)  / If only you would take ... (regret) 

 

 

 

you – only second person singular or plural is used in this if-clause

will (V) – being willing, determined, sure to do something;  will (future modal verb)  versus

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you won't

Express lack of cooperation

 

 

 

Refusal — If you won't

NEGATIVE CONDITION

Won't in the condition expresses the idea of someone being "unwilling" to do something. 

CONDITION— IF…WON'T PREDICTED EFFECT

If you won't work harder, (are unwilling)

then you will continue to fail.  

If you won't eat your broccoli, (are unwilling)

then you won't get dessert.

NEGATIVE CONDITION WORDING

A similar meaning is expressed with unwilling (Adj) and refuse (V) in the condition clause after if.

CONDITION— IF…UNWILLING PREDICTED EFFECT

If you are unwilling work harder,

then you will continue to fail.  

If you refuse to work harder,  

then you will continue to fail.  

 

will (modal) – future intent  We will leave tomorrow.
will
(V) – being willing, determined, sure to do something; She willed herself not to cry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other if Complements

Be going to / Am to…

 

 

If I am to…

IF + BE GOING + TO VERB

Be going to  in the clause after if expresses future intent, the main clause states the condition for obtaining it.  (The speaker is asking for cooperation.) 

STATEMENT OF INTENT ADVICE / CONDITION

If I am going to help,

you need to give me your full attention.

If bees are going to be saved,

we must stop using toxic chemicals. (passive voice)

If you are going to arrive there on time,

you had better leave now.

If he is going to be home by 9:00 (intent),

he ought to start walking by 8:30. (requirement)

IF +  (BE)  + TO VERB

If…am to + verb  in a clause after if is a shorter way of expressing conditional intent (assistance) when asking for someone to cooperate.

STATEMENT OF INTENT ADVICE / CONDITION

If I am to help,

you need to give me your full attention.

If bees are to be saved,

we must stop using toxic chemicals.

If you are to arrive there on time,

you had better leave now.  

*If he is to be home by 9:00,

I will drop by /  he ought to start walking at 8:30. (condition)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short If Complements

If necessary…

 

 

Expressions with If

FULL CLAUSE

If it (be) necessary in the if prep. phrase expresses a condition of requirement. (also if any good, if ever, if anything)                             

If  [it is] necessary, scientists will work overtime.

If [there is] any good that comes of this, it will be a miracle.

Rarely, if [it is] ever, are bees out at night.

I'm not upset.  If [there is] anything , I am relieved.

If [you are] in doubt, ask for help.

SHORTENED IF CLAUSE

If necessary, If anything, if ever, if in doubt are other common expressions  that may be shortened.  subject + be is omitted.

If necessary, scientists will work overtime. (Adj)

If any good comes of this, it will be a miracle. (NP)

Rarely, if ever, are bees out at night. (Adv)

I'm not upset.  If anything, I am relieved. (N)

If in doubt, ask for help. (PP)

 

See Adjunct Prepositional Phrases. 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

*If you will need something, just ask.    

Will is used in an if-clause as a request. (See expressions.)

*I'll come pick you up if you will be done early.   

Will is used in an if-clause as a request.

If he will success, he can find it.
 

SOLUTION

If you need something, just ask.   (future chance of need) 
If you are going to need something, give us 24 hours to get it. (future intent - requirement) 
*If you will need something, . . .   (Need cannot be used in a request.) 

I'll come pick you up if you are done early.  (future chance of being done) 
 

If he wills success, he can find it.   (Will can be used as a lexical verb meaning "to purpose, determine on, or elect, by an act of will".)

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional and Linguistic Description

Advanced

 

 

Traditional Grammar and Linguistic Description

TRADITIONAL GRAMMAR LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

In traditional grammar, a a conditional clause is an adverbial clause (related to the verb).

If-clauses " also called adverb clauses present possible conditions. The main clause expresses result." (Azar 17-6, 20-2)

A real conditional relates a cause-effect relationship of a true situation.
An unreal conditional relates a cause-effect relationship of an untrue situation, hypothetical condition, or an imaginary present, past or future.

An if clause refers to a condition — something which must happen so that something else can happen.   (Swan 257)
if  is a conjunction  "We use special structures with if when we are talking about unreal situations — things that will probably not happen, situations that are untrue or imaginary… We use past tenses and would to 'distance' our language from reality." (Swan 258)

Conditional construction: if-clause—protasis; matrix (main) clause— apodosis (Huddleston 8 §14)

if  — preposition that takes a content clause as its subordinate complement.  (PP + finite clause)

open: If you come on Sunday, we'll have dinner together.
open: If you came on Sundays, you always had dinner with them.

remote: if you came tonight, we would have dinner together.  (preterit, irrealis)
remote: if you had come tonight, we would have had dinner together.  (past preterit, irrealis)

If I was / were…  preterit verb form. Irrealis (Huddleston 3 §1.7)
   

REED-KELLOGG DIAGRAM  TREE DIAGRAM

We take an umbrella if it is raining.

We take an umbrella if it is raining.      

Clause; Subject / Predicate; Finite / Nonfinite; NP –noun phrase; N – noun; VP – verb phrase; V – verb; Compcomplement; Detdeterminer; Adj –  adjective; AdjP – adjective phrase; PPprepositional phrase; P – preposition; SubSubordinator

 

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Tense Agreement

bee
 

 

Read Context

A World Without Bees

When Professor Gordon Frankie wants to impress school children with the importance of bees, he lays out an array of foods such as berries, grapes, pears, and chocolate alongside a couple of dried-out tortillas and rice cakes and asks them which foods they prefer. "The kids go for the fruits and chocolate," he said.

 

"Then I tell them: In a world without bees, the only choice they'd have would be the dried-out tortillas or rice cakes, since wheat and rice are self-pollinated. Even chocolate, from the cacao plant, depends on the pollination of bees. That gets their attention."  The exact cause of Colony Collapse Disorder is not known.

 

 

 

Complete the verb form.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your responses to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 1-10" button.

 

1.

2.


pesticide (N) – a poison that kills a particular or several kinds of insects

3.

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9.
How should the sentence be punctuated?


10.
How should the sentence be punctuated?


 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Bee Society

 

 

 

Complete the sentence with "if" expressions.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your responses to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 11-21" button.

 

11.


abandon (V) – to leave someone, especially someone you are responsible for

12.


swarm (N) – a large group of flying bees
disturb (V) – to bother
hive (N) – box or location in which bees live

13.


harm (V) – hurt or endanger

14.

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benefit (V) – to receive advantages and improvements in our life from their work

18.

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20.
What does the if-clause express in this sentence?

21.


sting (N)– the painful bite of an insect