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Session 2

When a baby is on the way, everyone has a lot of advice. We listen to some friends advising a mother to be, and then hear her making some plans for the coming months.

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6 Minute Grammar

First conditional

If it rains, what will you do? Well, if it rains, I’ll take my umbrella with me. It’s not as colourful as the one in the picture, but it will keep me dry. ‘If it rains, I will take my umbrella’ is an example of a first conditional sentence. We mainly use first conditionals to talk about possible future situations, and their results. Listen to 6 Minute Grammar to hear more examples.

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Neil
Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute Grammar with me, Neil.

Sophie
And me, Sophie. Hello.

Neil
Today we’re talking about the first conditional.

Sophie
Yes, the first conditional. We’ll be looking at why and when we use it.

Neil
We’ll see how to make it…

Sophie
There’ll be a very helpful pronunciation tip…

Neil
And there’ll be a quiz at the end of the show, so keep listening!

Sophie
OK, let’s start with why and when. We use the first conditional to talk about possible future situations - and their possible results. Here’s Catherine with our first example:

Catherine
If I lose my umbrella, I will buy another one.

Sophie
Thanks, Catherine. A weather-related example there: If I lose my umbrella, I will buy another one.

Neil
And it’s made of two parts. The first part describes a possible future situation, and it’s made from if plus the present simple: If I lose my umbrella…

Sophie
…and the second part is the result part. It’s made of will plus an infinitive. I will buy another one. Can you put them both together now please Catherine.

Catherine
If I lose my umbrella, I will buy another one.

Neil
Thanks, Catherine. Here are some more examples.

Catherine
If I visit Mexico, I will stay with my friends.
They will go to the beach if it’s sunny.
If Michal passes his exams, we’ll have a party for him.

Neil
So that’s the first conditional: if plus present simple, with will plus an infinitive, to talk about a possible future situation and its possible result.

Sophie
That’s right. But if we’re not sure if the result part will actually happen, we can use might instead of will. Catherine.

Catherine
If I lose my umbrella, I might buy another one.

Neil
I might buy you dinner tonight, Sophie, if you’re nice to me!

Sophie
Well, I’m always nice, Neil. So that’s might instead of will – when we’re not certain about the future result.

Neil
But if we’re sure that the future situation will happen, we can change if to when, like this:

Catherine
When I lose my umbrella, I’ll buy another one.

Sophie
You should always look after your umbrellas, Catherine. Ok, let’s look at using should for advice in a first conditional sentence.

Catherine
You shouldn’t use the kettle if it isn’t working properly.

Sophie
So the result part comes first. We have a modal verb, shouldn’t, and we use this to give advice: Don’t use the kettle! The if part gives the possible future situation: The kettle isn’t working.

Neil
But how are we going to make the tea if the kettle’s broken? I haven’t had a cup all morning!

Sophie
I’ll do my best to fix it, Neil. Now for a pronunciation tip. In our examples about umbrellas, the two words I will can be shortened to I’ll. Here’s Catherine with the long and short versions of I will. Listen carefully.

Catherine
If I lose my umbrella, I will buy another one.
If I lose my umbrella, I’ll buy another one.

Neil
I will buy… I’ll buy. So will is shortened to just a /l/ sound. Here are some more examples:

Catherine
They will go to the beach if it’s sunny.
They’ll go to the beach if it’s sunny.
If Michal passes his exams, we will have a party for him.
If Michal passes his exams, we’ll have a party for him.

IDENT
You’re listening to BBC Learning English.

Sophie
And we’re talking about the first conditional.

Neil
And it’s time for a quiz! Decide if these sentences are right or wrong. Sophie will give you the answers. Number one. If William wakes up late, he miss the school bus.

Sophie
And this sentence is wrong: the if part is correct; but will is missing from the result part. Here’s the correct sentence, with a short will: If William wakes up late, he’ll miss the school bus.

Neil
Great. Another one: I’ll visit Central Park if I go to New York.

Sophie
This sentence is correct!

Neil
And the last one: I might go to the doctor if I won’t feel better tomorrow.

Sophie
This sentence has the future form won’t in the if part - and that’s wrong. The correct sentence needs present simple in the if part, so: I might go to the doctor if I don’t feel better tomorrow.

Neil               
Well done if you got those right at home. Now, before we go, here’s a top tip for using the first conditional correctly – you only need one will, and it’s never in the if part. Here’s a wrong example:

Catherine
If I will see Peter on Saturday, I will tell him to call you.

Sophie
If I will see… I will tell him – two wills – that’s got to be wrong. Let’s have a correct version please, Catherine.

Catherine
If I see Peter on Saturday, I’ll tell him to call you.

Neil
That’s much better. Only one will and it isn’t in the if part.

Sophie
So that’s the first conditional. It’s made of if plus the present simple, with will plus the infinitive.

Neil
And we mainly use it to talk about a possible situation in the future and its results.

Sophie
There’s lots more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Grammar.

Both
Bye.

 

 

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End of Session 2

That’s it for Session 2. Remember, if you study hard, you will get better at English. We hope you’ve found it useful to learn about first conditional sentences – now you know what they look like and what they mean. Join us in the next session where we’ll meet some parents-to-be and hear lots more examples of first conditionals. See you there!

Session Grammar

  • We use the first conditional with if + will to talk about possible future situations and their results.

    The two parts of the sentence can be in any order. 

    If I feel tired, I'll have a nap.

    I'll have a nap if I feel tired.

    It isn't certain that I'll feel tired.