Zero and first conditional

Zero conditional:

We use the zero conditional when we need to talk about things which are always true, something that happens in general.

These facts can be scientific, they are general truths, or things which we consider being  true, they can be habits or facts from the real world.

Here if = when, because they are not really conditions, more situations. 


  • When/If I run, my heart beats really fast.
  • When/If you heat chocolate, it melts.
  • When/If the temperature raises over 100 degrees, the water evaporates.
  • When/If I drink wine, I get sleepy.
  • When/If I work at night, I am very tired next day.
  • When/If one of my daughters has a cold, the other one catches it too.
  • When/If you smoke, you get ill.
  • When/If she doesn’t do her homework, her teacher gets angry.
  • When/If I don’t study hard, I have bad results.
  • When/If I eat too much sugar, I get fat.
  • When/If I watch a romantic film, I usually cry.
  • When/If I drink coffee in the evening, I can’t sleep at night.

So if or when have the same meaning.

The structure:

Conditional sentences have two clauses:

  1. Conditional clause, which is also called: „if” clause and contains the verb in present simple.
  2. The main clause: which shows the result and contains also the verb in present simple.

So we have:

If/when + present simple, present simple:

If/When you heat chocolate, it melts.


When my boy eats too much sugar, he feels sick.

I always have a good time if/when I go to the theatre.


My mother gets upset when I don’t answer her calls.


What happens at the North Pole when/if the temperature goes lower than -20 degrees?

First Conditional:

We use the first conditional to talk about a particular situation, about things which may happen, if an action, which is a condition, takes place.

  • If it rains, I won't go on the trip.
  • If you study today, you'll pass that exam, don’t worry.
  • We need to buy some presents for our parents! OK, if I have enough time, I'll go shopping.
  • They'll be late if they don’t find a taxi.
  • Come on! You'll miss the airplane if you don’t hurry.
  • If I have enough money, I'll buy you that toy train.
  • If I see my teacher later, I’ll give her my homework. It is probable to see her, I don’t know for sure.

When I’m sure that I’ll see my teacher later, I can also use „when” instead of „if”

  • When I see my teacher later, I’ll give her my homework.
  • If we go to the university today, I’ll take my project to show it to our assistant professor.
  • If he says that the project is good, I will finally print it.


  • If you come home earlier, buy some bread please!
  • If you finish your task earlier, help Johnny please.
  • If you are ready, make the bed please!
  • If you go to grannie, bring her some bread and milk, please.

Conditional sentences have two clauses:

  1. Conditional clause, which is also called: „if” clause and contains the verb in present simple.
  2. The main clause: which shows the result and contains will be followed by infinitive or a verb in imperative.

They can come in any order.

We don’t use any comma when the main part is first.

  • If/When I go to London, I'll visit the Buckingham Palace.
  • I’ll do the shopping today if you are busy.
  • If you finish painting the house, we’ll have a party.
  • I won’t take the kid to the kindergarten if the car is not ready.
  • If I go camping, I won’t take my mobile phone, so don’t call me!

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