How To Use If Conditions in Sentences

When it comes to English writing, conditional statements or conditional sentences with if conditions are devices of great utility. They are especially important when it comes to academic writing. These tools can be put to good use in other forms of writing as well. However, it’s necessary to keep certain rules in mind when using them. Read on to get a quick understanding of how to use if conditions correctly.

What is an if-conditional statement?

An if-conditional statement has two parts—the main clause and a sub-clause. The sub-clause deals with an if a condition or a hypothetical situation, and the main clause points to what follows if the condition is fulfilled.

Example: If you do not study, you will fail.

Here, If you do not study forms the if statement or sub-clause that describes a situation. The clause you will fail is the main clause. 

The order of the clauses can change. When the if condition follows the main clause, there is no need to use a comma to separate the clauses.

Example: You will fail if you do not study.

Types of conditional sentences

Conditional sentences can be divided into five categories based on the nature of the main clause and the sub-clause. The effect of modal auxiliary verbs also factors in with this classification. Thus, conditional statementsare divided as follows:

  1. Zero conditional
  2. First conditional
  3. Second conditional
  4. Third conditional
  5. Mixed conditional

The following table describes the rules of these different conditional sentences:


Dependent Clause(if clause)Main Clause (then clause)
Zero conditionalSimple PresentSimple Present
First conditionalSimple PresentSimple Future
Second conditionalSimple PastModal auxiliary verb should be present
Third conditionalPast PerfectModal auxiliary verb
Mixed conditionali) Past PerfectPresent Conditional
ii) Simple PastPerfect Conditional

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