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Michigan TIPS, Issue #009 Conditionals
September 30, 2008


If conditionals have given you problems in the past, then now is the time to clear them up. Itís guaranteed that youíll see them -- in all kinds of combinations -- on your Michigan Exam.


Conditionals need not be difficult. The following is a short review aimed at helping you clear up any misunderstandings you may have.


I recommend reading through the list and looking for examples from your course books or even from other printed material. Itís not so important to remember what number conditional they are as it is to remember the structures which they follow.


The good thing about conditionals is that they are used often in speech and everyday life and, therefore, are more easily learned than other aspects of the language.


So, are you ready to review conditionals?


Here goesÖÖ








Type 1 refers to present or future time [possible situations]


If + simple present + will / can / may / might + infinitive


If he wants to go to Michigan, Iíll let him.

If she is quiet, sheíll hear the answer.

If they can afford it, theyíll go on vacation to England.

If he has any time, he can stop at the store.


Type 2 refers to past or future time [unlikely situations, unreal or imaginary]


If + simple past + would / could / might + infinitive


If he wanted to go to Michigan, Iíd let him.

If she were quiet, sheíd hear the answer.

If they could afford it, theyíd go on vacation to England.

If he had any time, he could stop at the store.


Type 3 refers to past time [actions that didnít happen or, if they did, the outcome would be different tan it is now]


If + past perfect + would / could / might + have + past participle


If he had wanted to go to Michigan, Iíd have let him.

If she had been quiet, sheíd have heard the answer.

If they had been able to afford it, theyíd have gone on vacation to England.

If he had had any time, he could have stopped at the store.


Mixed Conditionals - Various tense combinations are possible depending on the context, or logic, of the condition.


style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; mso-ansi-language: EN-US">If you had seen it happen, youíd know why Iím concerned.

[You didnít see it happen, so you canít know why Iím concerned]


If you are such a risk taker, why didnít you bet on the outcome?

[A real risk taker would have bet on the outcome]


If the plane landed on time, sheíll be long gone by now.

[Depending on the time the plane was to land in relation to now]



If + should [implies probability - though not very great]


          If he should ask, tell him Iíll be back shortly. (If he happens to ask)


Inverted Conditionals = check under the Michigan TIPS entitled Ďinversioní for a more detailed look at the following


The words should, had and were can be placed before the subject, with the word if omitted.


          If he should ask, tell him Iíll be back in a few minutes.

            Should he ask, tell him Iíll be back in a few minutes.


          If I were in your position, I would quit.

            Were I in your position, I would quit.


          If I had seen Francis, I would have invited him as well.

            Had I seen Francis, I would have invited him as well.


BUT for: [meaning without]


          If it wasnít for = without

          If it hadnít been for = without


          But for her, I would have given up long ago.

          But for your help, I wouldnít have been able to finish the project.


If + will / would expresses willingness, refusal, insistence,

desire, request, annoyance, etc.


          If you will / would wait a moment, the manager will be with you shortly.

          If you will keep on making noise, I will send you out of the room.

          If she would see it my way, we could get through the problem easily.


We can express doubt or uncertainty with: I donít know / I doubt / I wonder / Iím not sure if / whether.


          I doubt if he will agree to such terms in the contract.

          I donít know if she will accept your invitation to the party.


If + would [for reported speech]


          He asked me if / whether I would tell anyone else.


If + would like [if + want / wish]


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***Donít use future tenses after the following words or phrases:


Unless, provided/providing, even if, suppose/supposing, on condition that, so / as long as, in case


I will let you go to the game provided you come home early.

Unless he changes his mind, Iíll lose my job. [NOT: Unless he will changeÖ]

I can lend you my phone on condition you donít lose it.

You can get a cat as / so long as you look after it yourself.

I will never forget my baptism as long as I live. [NOT: as long as I will live.]

Take your sweater in case it gets cold later.

Even if he leaves now, heíll miss his train. [NOT: Even if he will leaveÖ]




Unless can be used to mean - if Ö not:


          Iíll tell your mother unless you behave [NOT: unless you donít behave.]


Unless can be used to mean - exceptÖ. if, we can sometimes use a negative structure after it.


          Heíll stay unless you donít want him to. [This is rare but tested item]


In case is followed by a present or past tense, or by should [might]


          Take a compass in case you get lost. [NOT: in case you will get lost.]




He took a compass in case he got lost.

He took a compass in case he should get lost





Well, thatís about all there is to know about conditionals and your Michigan exam. Yes, theyíll be tested so itís a good idea to make sure you know them.


Teaching + Inspiration + Practice = Success

Good learning everyone!

Till next time...



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