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Conditional Sentence

  • Another name for the conditional sentence is the ‘if clause’ or the ‘conditional clause’
  • The conditional sentence describes the relationship between two events or activities.
  • It is a complex sentence in which the relationship between the action in the main clause and that of the subordinate depend on each other. For example:
    • If you leave the book (situation 1) on the table, Sheila (situation 2) will easily find it.
    • In the above sentence, situation 1 must occur before situation 2 can occur
  • We can say that the ‘if’ (subordinate) clause shows the possibility while the second (main) clause conveys the result.
  • NOTE: The subordinate clause can be in the beginning or the second part of the complex sentence and must be separated by a comma.
Types of Conditional Sentence
  • Open Conditional Sentences
    • If I eat pounded yam at night (if clause), I don’t sleep well (present tense/main clause)
    • The first sentence is used for future real possibility. The condition may be fulfilled, so the result is possible.
    • The second conditional sentence expresses an unreal or unlikely situation in the future or a wish for the future.
  • Subjunctive Conditional Sentences/Past Conditional Sentences
    • This expresses past events that have occurred.
    • So, there is no possibility or likelihood expressed.
    • We use ‘could have’, ‘might have’, and ‘would have’ with -en (past participle/perfective) verbs. For example:
      • If I ate (past tense) pounded yam this evening, I wouldn’t (past tense) sleep well.
      • If I were (past tense) a dog, I would (past tense) attack thieves.