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  • Daisy Hardy

English Reading: Conditionals in context

Updated: Nov 28, 2020

Learning, understanding and using conditional sentences in English can be a tricky topic for many students, but seeing them in a real context can really help your understanding. Read this short story below and spot the different conditionals. Maybe highlight them, or write the sentences down in a notebook. Decide if each conditional is conditional zero, one, two or three. Think about the meaning of these sentences and try to come up with other similar examples that you might use in your daily life. Note: The answers are below, including useful vocab and a grammar explanation, so don't scroll down too far until you are finished and ready to see the answers!

Story: A relaxing Saturday stroll


Every Saturday I meet up with my friend Amy to catch up on what’s happened during the week. If the weather is good, we go to the park, and if the weather is bad, we meet at the shopping centre. Today it’s sunny so we’re going to go to the park. It’s great meeting in the park because there’s a cafe there that we really like. If it’s not too busy this morning, we’ll sit there together and have a coffee, and maybe even one of their famous brownies.


I meet Amy at the corner of the park at 11 o' clock and we stroll along the path, through piles of autumn leaves. We head for the cafe and luckily find that there's one table free outside - just for us! We sit down and start to catch up on the latest gossip and our busy weeks.

After a few minutes, the waiter comes to take our order and we order two cappuccinos. I ask if they have brownies today, but the waiter tells me they’ve all run out! He asks us if we would like a raspberry muffin instead.


I say, “If the brownies were available, I wouldn’t be able to resist, but I don’t really fancy a muffin. Thanks anyway.”

Amy says, “I love muffins, but I’ve just eaten a really big breakfast at home. If I hadn’t eaten so much, I would have loved a muffin but I’m just not hungry. Maybe one to take away would be nice. ”


Before we know it, the waiter brings us our two cappuccinos (and a raspberry muffin in a paper bag to take away) and we sit for the rest of the morning chatting away in the sunshine.


 

Grammar revision


Conditional zero: If + PRESENT tense, + PRESENT tense


E.g. If you heat ice, it melts. (Used for facts)


Conditional one: If + PRESENT tense, + FUTURE tense (will)


E.g. If you ask me, I will help you.


Conditional two: If + SIMPLE PAST tense, + SIMPLE CONDITIONAL tense (would)


E.g. If you asked me, I would help you.


Conditional three: If + PAST PERFECT tense, + PERFECT CONDITIONAL tense


E.g. If you had asked me, I would have helped you. (But you didn't ask. So I didn't help.)


 

Useful vocabulary


A stroll - A short, relaxed, slow paced walk

To stroll - To walk in a slow and relaxed way

To catch up - To chat to someone you haven't seen in a while to find out what they've been doing

A pile - A heap, or stack, of things lying on top of one another (e.g. lots of leaves on top of each other = a pile of leaves)

To head for - to go towards a destination

To fancy - to want or desire something in that moment

 

Answers



Every Saturday I meet up with my friend Amy to catch up on what’s happened during the week.


(0) If the weather is good, we go to the park, and if the weather is bad, we meet at the shopping centre.


Today it’s sunny so we’re going to go to the park. It’s great meeting in the park because there’s a cafe there that we really like.


(1) If it’s not too busy this morning, we’ll sit there together and have a coffee, and maybe even one of their famous brownies.


I meet Amy at the corner of the park at 11 o' clock and we stroll along the path, through piles of autumn leaves. We head for the cafe and luckily find that there's one table free outside - just for us! We sit down and start to catch up on the latest gossip and our busy weeks.

After a few minutes, the waiter comes and takes our order and we order two cappuccinos. I ask if they have brownies today, but the waiter tells me they’ve all run out! He asks us if we would like a raspberry muffin instead.


NOTE: this above section has two 'ifs' but no conditionals. These are examples of the verb 'to ask if'. A conditional sentence needs two parts with two different verb tenses, as per the rules above.


I say: (2) “If the brownies were available, I wouldn’t be able to resist, but I don’t really fancy a muffin. Thanks anyway.”


Amy says: “I love muffins, but I’ve just eaten a really big breakfast at home.

(3) If I hadn’t eaten so much, I would have loved a muffin but I’m just not hungry. Maybe one to take away would be nice. ”

Before we know it, the waiter brings us our two cappuccinos (and a raspberry muffin in a paper bag to take away) and we sit for the rest of the morning chatting away in the sunshine.

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