Juxtaposition of the if-sentences

(Comparison of the conditional sentences or if-clauses)

Table of contents – conditional sentences

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Use of the conditional sentences
  2. Further explanations and exercises

When are conditional sentences (if-clauses) used?

In the following chart, you will find a juxtaposition of how to use the if-clauses (full conditional sentences), which makes it easier for you to choose the appropriate type. Decide according to this principle:

    Can the condition be fulfilled?
Can the result occur?
  yes, probable yes, rather improbable no, impossible  
Yes, condition can be fulfilled; result can occur.
(→ probable)
Yes, condition could be fulfilled; result could occur.
(→ rather unlikely)
No, condition can no longer be fulfilled; result can no longer occur.
(→ impossible)
if-clause type 1 if-clause type 2 if-clause type 3
if-clause type I
(1st conditional)
if-clause type II
(2nd conditional)
if-clause type III
(3rd conditional)
“If I leave, I will catch the train.” “If I left, I would catch the train.” “If I had left, I would have caught the train.”
↙ ↘ ↙ ↘ ↙ ↘
if-clause Main clause if-clause Main clause if-clause Main clause
present future (will) past present conditional past perfect past conditional
‘leave’ ‘will catch’ ‘left’ ‘would catch’ ‘had left’ ‘would have caught’

Further explanations related to the ‘Comparison of if-clauses’

The following explanations refer to the topic ‘Juxtaposition of the if-sentences (conditional sentences) in English’ and could help you too: