Conditional Sentences

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Conditional Sentences
The meaning of
Conditional Sentences
Conditionals
Factual
Future
(predictive)
Imaginative
(Subjunctive)
1. Timeless
•Generic
•Habitual
1. Strong
condition and
result
1. Hypothetical
• Present
• Future
2. Time-bound
•Implicit
inference
•Explicit
inference
2. Degrees of
weakened
condition or
result
2. Counterfactual
• Present
• Past
Factual Conditional Sentences
 Generic

Factual Conditionals
Relationships that are true and unchanging
• If oil is mixed with water, it floats.
• If you boil water, it vaporizes.


Normally take a simple present tense in both
clauses.
Especially frequent in scientific writing.
Factual Conditional Sentences
 Habitual


Factual Conditionals
Relationship based on habit;
Past or present relationships that are habitually
true.
• If I wash the dishes, Sally dries them.
• If Nancy said, “Jump!” Bob jumped.


Both clauses usually have the same tense
Frequent in conversation.
Factual Conditional Sentences
 Implicit


inference conditionals
Specific time-bound relationships.
Much wider range of verb tenses.
• If smog can be licked in L.A., it can be licked anywhere.
• If the radicals haven’t made the government more
responsive, they have wasted their time.
• If there was a happy man in the world that night, it was
John Tunney.


Both clauses usually have the same tense
“When(ever)” cannot substitute for “if”.
Factual Conditional Sentences
 Explicit


inference conditionals
Specific time-bound relationships.
Marked with modals.
• If he was there, he must have seen the painting.
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
Usually makes use of “must” or “should”.
“When(ever)” cannot substitute for “if”.
Future Conditional Sentences
 Strong


Condition or Result
Future plans or contingencies;
Normal pattern is simple present tense in the if
clause and some explicit indication of future
time in the result clause.
• If it rains, I’ll stay home.
• If you finish your vegetables, I’m going to buy you an
ice cream cone.
• If Steve comes to class, he will get the answers to the
quiz.
Future Conditional Sentences
 Degrees

Prediction scale – Result Clause:
•
•
•
•

of Weakened Conditional or Result
will, be going to =
should =
may =
might =
certain (strong result)
probable
possible (stronger than might)
possible (weaker than may)
To weaken the condition clause:
• should; happens to; should happen to
Imaginative Conditional Sentences
 Hypothetical


Conditionals
Express what the speaker perceives to be unlikely
yet possible events or states in the if clause;
Can refer to the future as well as the present
• If Joe had the time, he would go to Mexico. (Present)
• If Joe were to have the time, he would go to Mexico.
(Future)

The if clause is not strongly negated.
Imaginative Conditional Sentences
 Hypothetical

Conditionals
The negative quality of the if clause can be even
further weakened so that the possibility of the result
occurring becomes stronger:
• If Joe should have the time, he would go to Mexico.
• If Joe happened to have the time, he would go...
• If Joe should happen to have the time, he would go...
Imaginative Conditional Sentences
 Hypothetical

Conditionals
Sometimes, the difference between using a future
conditional and a hypothetical conditional is a
matter of speaker choice:
• If it rains, I’ll stay home. (Future)
• If it were to rain, I would stay home. (Hypothetical)
Imaginative Conditional Sentences
 Counterfactual


Conditionals
Express impossible events or states in the if clause
Reference to the present or past
• If my grandfather were alive today, he would experience a
very different world. (Present)
• If my grandfather had been alive in 1996, he would have
been 100 years old. (Past)

The if clause is strongly negated.

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