Grammar Quiz #17: If Clauses

By Mark Nichol

The type of “if” clause known as “first conditional” is used to express a condition that is possible and even likely to be fulfilled in the future. The most common verb tenses used with this type of conditional statement are simple past in the “if” clause and future tense in the other clause. It does not matter which clause comes first. Choose the correct sentence from each pair:

1.
a) If you had studied my book on birds, you would learn how they fly.
b) If you study my book on birds, you will learn how they fly.

2.
a) A person will get ahead in life if he worked hard.
b) A person will get ahead in life if he works hard.

3.
a) If you meet me at the free court this afternoon, we would play a pick-up game of basketball.
b) If you meet me at the free court this afternoon, we can play a pick-up game of basketball.

4.
a) Rain is forecast. You know you’ll get wet if you would go now, don’t you?
b) Rain is forecast. You know you’ll get wet if you go now, don’t you?

5.
a) If I miss lunch, I’ll have more money to spend on lottery tickets.
b) I would have bought more lottery tickets if I had had more money with me.

Answers and Explanations

1.
b) If you study my book on birds, you will learn how they fly.

The incorrect sentence contains a past tense verb, a clue that it is not first conditional.

2.
b) A person will get ahead in life if he works hard.

The “if” clause may come after the main clause.

3.
b) If you meet me at the free court this afternoon, we can play a pick-up game of basketball.

Although will is the usual verb in this kind of clause, the modal can may also be used. You could also say, If you meet me at the free court this afternoon, we could play a pick-up game of basketball.

4.
b) Rain is forecast. You know you’ll get wet if you go now, don’t you?

Would is not normally used with the first conditional.

5.
a) If I miss lunch, I’ll have more money to spend on lottery tickets.

I’ll is a contraction for I will.

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1 Response to “Grammar Quiz #17: If Clauses”

  • Michael Tevlin

    Mark, you said, “The most common verb tenses used with this type of conditional statement are simple past in the “if” clause.” But all of the correct examples use present tense in the if clause.

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