First Conditional

We use the First Conditional to talk about real possibilities in the future (this includes: superstitions, future plans, giving warnings and making threats, as well as making offers and suggestions). We use Present Simple in the conditional clause and will/won’t + verb (Future Simple) in the main clause. If you would like to learn more about the First Conditional, you’ve come to the right place. Feel free to look around, learn, and practice.

first conditional
Form
Conditional Clause Main Clause
If + Present Simple, + will/won’t + verb.

If David comes, he will drive you.

If David comes, = the conditional clause

he will drive you. = the main clause (result clause)

If I miss the train, I will be late for work.

If it rains today, I won’t play baseball.

If you see Tom, will you tell him to call me?

*NOTE: In spoken English, will is often contracted to ‘ll to the subject.

If I win tickets to the game, I’ll take you.

It is also possible to invert the clauses by putting the main clause before the conditional clause to add variety and also when we want to emphasise a certain part of the sentence.

So, we can also use the following structure:

Main Clause Conditional Clause
Will/Won’t + verb + If + Present Simple.

*NOTE: When the main clause comes before the conditional clause, we do not use a comma before the conditional clause.

Compare the following examples with the sentences above:

David will drive you if he comes.

I will be late for work if I miss the train.

I won’t play baseball if it rains today.

Will you tell Tom to call me if you see him?

*NOTE: We can replace will/won’t in the main clause with Going to.

I will go on holiday to Polynesia next year if I have enough money.

I’m going to go on holiday to Polynesia next year if I have enough money.

We can use modal verbs in the main clause instead of will / won’t.

– use might / may / could to show uncertainty.

If it’s nice on Saturday, we might have a barbecue.

– use can / be able to to talk about ability.

If we save our money, we can go on holiday this summer.

– use should when you want to talk about something that is advisable or probable.

If they invite you to a job interview, you should wear something nice.

It is possible to create different variations of sentence structure using conjunctions to talk about the future.

We can use when if you are certain that the action in the conditional clause will happen.

If the doctor is free, he will see you. (it is not certain the doctor will be free)

When the doctor is free, he will see you. (it is certain the doctor will be free)

We use as soon as instead of if to show that the action in the main clause will happen the moment the condition is met.

I’ll let you know, as soon as she calls. (the moment she calls)

We can use before instead of if to emphasise that the action will happen before the condition is met.

I’ll email you the information before I leave the office.

(first, I’ll email you then I’ll leave the office)

We can use after instead of if to emphasise that the action will happen after the condition is met.

I’ll go to the store after it stops raining.

(first it’ll stop raining then I’ll go to the store)

We can use until instead of if to emphasise that the action will continue until the condition is met.

She’ll wait for me until I finish work.

(she won’t stop waiting until I finish work)

We can use unless instead of if not.

I can’t help if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.

I can’t help you unless you tell me what’s wrong.

We can also use Imperatives in the main clause.

If you see Janice this evening, let me know.

It is also possible to use the Present Perfect Simple in the main clause with after, before, and until. There is no difference in meaning.

I won’t help you until I finish what I’m doing

I won’t help you until I‘ve finished what I’m doing

She’ll take the dog for a walk after she‘s finished eating.

She’ll take the dog for a walk after she finishes eating.

He won’t buy the property before he‘s seen it.

He won’t buy the property before he sees it.

*NOTE: We can also use when with Present Perfect Simple in First Conditional sentences, however it means that the conditional event/action must happen before future event/action occurs.

They’ll buy a new television when they‘ve saved enough money.