if-clause type 1 (first conditional)

(Explanation of conditional sentences type 1 in English)

Table of contents – first conditional

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Use of the first conditional sentence
  2. Form of the first conditional sentence
  3. Further explanations and exercises

When is the first conditional sentence (if-clause type 1) used?

In general, conditional sentences describe ideas or situations that depend on another. They are, so to speak, tied to a condition. In particular, the first conditional sentence, which is also often called if-sentence or if-clause type 1, is used in the following cases:

  • Examples of using the first conditional sentence (if-clause 1) …
    • … for circumstances that can arise due to a condition that is likely to be met:
      • If she comes home late, she will get in trouble.”
        • The condition (late arrival) is quite probable and can be fulfilled.
      • If you buy it now, you’ll save a lot of money.”
        • The condition here (buying) is also probable and can be fulfilled as well.
    • … to give advice or instructions. Then, the imperative mood is employed instead of ‘will’:
      • If you don’t like it, don’t eat it.”
      • Listen carefully if you don’t want to miss anything.”
  • For helping you select the appropriate if-sentence, please refer to the comparison chart of the conditionals.

How is the first conditional sentence (if-clause type 1) formed?

In principle, a conditional sentence in English always has two clauses. One of them (the subordinate clause) usually starts with the word ‘if’ and specifies the condition while the other one (main clause) returns the result. In fact, it is not important which of the two clauses begins the complex sentence; however, in case ‘if’ is at the beginning, a comma must be placed between the two. Under some circumstances, ‘if’ can also be replaced by ‘when’. In detail:

Rule for forming the first conditional (if-clause type 1)

if’ + present simple or present continuous, clause with future simple (will)

Additional examples

Be aware of the varied clause position:

  • If you wait for me a little more, I’ll buy you a drink.”
    • This sentence structure needs a comma, as ‘if’ appears at the beginning of the sentence.
  • “I’ll buy you a drink if you wait for me a little more.”
    • No comma is required, as the if-clause itself appears as the second part.

Further explanations referring to the ‘First conditional (if-clause type 1)’

The following additional explanations are related to the topic ‘Use of the first conditional sentence (if-clause 1)’ and may also be helpful: