Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

You are in: Learning English > The Flatmates
Learning English - The Flatmates
The Flatmates
Language Point
Navigation spacer Navigation spacer  
Archive Language Point 98

Language Point logo


The zero conditional

Alice in Paul's sitting room
A conditional is used to talk about a possible or imaginary situation (the condition) and the consequences (or the result) of it.

The zero conditional - meaning

We use the zero conditional to talk about something that will always happen (the result), if or when a particular condition is met.

Alice uses the zero conditional to tell Paul that whenever he next needs a babysitter in the future (the condition), he will always have to find someone other than Alice to help him (the result).

Next time you need a babysitter, find some other mug!
When it's 7.30, you go to bed Ellie.
If there's an emergency, Paul always helps at the hospital.

So, the meaning is that if the condition is met, then the result will always happen.

The zero conditional - form

The zero conditional is made up of the condition (the 'if/when/next time' part of the sentence) and the consequence or the result.

The Condition
The consequence or result
If + present simple,
present simple
Next time you need a babysitter,
When you shop online,
If you heat ice,
find some other mug.
you get a 10% discount.
it melts.

Note:
There is always a comma (,) between the two parts of the zero conditional, when we start with the 'if' part:

Next time you need a babysitter, find some other mug!
When it's 7.30, you go to bed Ellie.
If there's an emergency, Paul always helps at the hospital.

But when we start with the result part of the conditional, we don't need a comma:
Find some other mug next time you need a babysitter.
You go to bed when it's 7.30.
Paul always helps if there's an emergency.

If, when, whenever

If and when or whenever mean the same thing in the zero conditional.

If it rains, she takes the bus = When it rains, she takes the bus.
Whenever he sees a spider, he screams. = If he sees a spider, he screams.

The zero conditional - time

The zero conditional talks about things that are always true. Although it uses the present simple form, it doesn't refer only to the present, it refers to all time.

When you go to university, you need to work hard.
Whenever I call him, he's never there.

Vocabulary

casualties
people who are injured or killed in a serious accident or war

so-so (informal)
not very good or well

spoiled
someone who does exactly what s/he wants to do and is selfish and doesn't care or respect other people

brat (informal)
a child who behaves badly or rudely

a temper tantrum
behaving in a rude way because you don't get the things you want

a mug (informal)
a stupid person

 

Most Recent

Last 3 episodes

 

Last 3 language points

 

Last 3 quizzes

 

What's next?

What's next logoThe quiz

Go back

Go back logoThe episode