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15. Conditionals 1: Introduction

[All information copyrighted to EnglishAdam.com]

Conditionals 1: Introduction

The 'CONDITIONALS' are a worry for many students but they shouldn't worry....!

The Conditionals DON'T create any new grammar,
they only USE the grammar ideas we've covered!

I personally think the main difficulty with structures like the Conditionals is just that they are LONGER than
other structures, and come in two parts, parts that
are TAUGHT to be FIXED PAIRS.

Firstly, that means there is a lot more to remember.

Secondly, it's WRONG anyway!!!

Native speakers DO NOT USE the CONDITIONALS in the way
language students are TAUGHT them.

Firstly we will look at what a basic IF sentence is,
then we will have a look at THOSE CLASSIC 5 CONDITIONAL structures
that Students all around the world are forced to LEARN LIKE PARROTS.

Then we will look at the REALITY of the IF structure,
and how it is used in the WILD REAL WORLD!

Maybe we can imagine that "IF" is like
a Rocket to the Planet Hypothetical

Countdown...10...
9...
8...
7...
6...
5...
4...
3...
2...
1...
...LIFT OFF!

I said that the Conditionals only USE Grammar, they don't CREATE Grammar!
So bear with me here...
IMAGINE that WE NEED to CREATE the MOST COMMON Conditionals...
(I appreciate that this is a bit 'abstract', so don't worry too much about this Intro!)

Let's go!
What is the basic idea of an IF sentence?

The General Form is "IF A, then B."

Click me!



And what can we say about A in general?

IN GENERAL:
That it is either known to be NOT TRUE, or
is POSSIBLY NOT TRUE.
(It is possible though that A is known to be TRUE...
Eg: If you are reading this, you are not asleep.)

Click me!



And what can we say about B in general?

IN GENERAL:
That B follows A in TIME.

(Again this is not always true, for example:
"If he knows about us, then someone had told him at that party last week."
WHAT???!!! If PRESENT -> then PAST PERFECT!
No one TAUGHT me THAT CONDITIONAL!!!!)

Click me!



So we could visualize a GENERAL / TYPICAL Conditional as....

A -------> B

Click me!



And in terms of TIME?
PAST ----> NOW ----> FUTURE
How many combinations of A ------> B are there?
(for general purposes)

A (PAST) ------> B (PAST)
A (PAST) ------> B (NOW)
A (PAST) ------> B (FUTURE)
A (NOW) -------> B (FUTURE)
A (FUTURE) ------> B (FUTURE)

Click me!



But... NOW doesn't ACTUALLY EXIST!
(see early parts of Tense Mastery...
The NOW is just a milli milli second we pass through between the PAST and FUTURE)
And if I was to say that NOW is too small to act in?
An action NOW is acutally going to happen in the FUTURE,
or CONTINUING TO HAPPEN into the future...
EG: If I am talking to you, you should listen!
So...

A (NOW) -------> B (FUTURE)
A (FUTURE) ------> B (FUTURE)

Actually is the same thing:
A (NOW/FUTURE) ----> B (FUTURE)

Click me!



And what about?
A (PAST) ------> B (NOW)
Well it depends if it is describing an EFFECT in the NOW
or a SECOND ACTION...
A (PAST) ------> B (NOW [Effect in the Now])
A (PAST) ------> B (NOW [Second Action])
which is the same as:
A (PAST) ------> B (NOW [Effect in the Now from Past])
A (PAST) ------> B (NOW [Second Action in the Future])
What does that mean?

If B focuses on an EFFECT in the NOW, then
A (PAST) ------> B (NOW [Effect in the Now from Past])
and
A (PAST) ------> B (PAST)
are basically the same:
A (PAST) ------> B (PAST=EFFECT NOW)

And if B focuses on a SECOND ACTION...
Well that must happen in the future so...
A (PAST) ------> B (NOW [Second Action in the Future])
and
A (PAST) ------> B (FUTURE)
are basically the same:
A (PAST) ------> B (FUTURE)

Click me!



Wow, ok I am cofused...
What are the possible (General) Conditionals??

Well instead of:
A (PAST) ------> B (PAST)
A (PAST) ------> B (NOW)
A (PAST) ------> B (FUTURE)
A (NOW) -------> B (FUTURE)
A (FUTURE) ------> B (FUTURE)

We really have:
A (PAST) ------> B (PAST = Effect NOW)
A (PAST) ------> B (FUTURE)
A (NOW/FUTURE) ----> B (FUTURE)
OK OK!
THIS IS LOOKING COMPLICATED!
DON"T WORRY YOU WILL NOT NEED TO REMEMBER THIS.
OR EVEN USE THIS THOUGHT PROCESS!

Click me!



And why do I say this THOUGHT PROCESS can be forgotten?

Because actually I will show you that the CONDITIONALS don't even exist!

Click me!



Ok, now that you are bit calmer, let's go DEEPER!!

What is the Simplified/General Purpose of an IF clause?

To express a HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION
And its PERCEIVED PROBABILITY.

It is important when we communicate HYPOTHEITCAL SITUATIONS that
we also communicate some information about HOW REAL IT MIGHT BE!

If it happens = This is a real possibility
If it happened = This is not likely

Click me!



So what types of POSSIBILITY, PROBABILITY are there?

Maybe 4
- Certain (100%?)
- Probable (50+%?, 75%?)
- Improbable (50-%?, 25%?)
- Impossible (0%?)

Click me!



Ok..just to plant an idea for later...
now then in terms of PRESENT and PAST TENSES
and the IDEA of DISTANCE,
Which of these 4 (Certain, Probable, Improbable, Impossible)
are CLOSE (PRESENT)?
And which are FAR (PAST)?

CLOSE/PRESENT = Certain, Probable
FAR/PAST = Improbable/Impossible

Click me!



Now then let's combine these General (over-simplified) ideas
about the Conditionals...
FIRST, conditionals using the PAST...
A (PAST) ------> B (PAST = Effect NOW)
A (PAST) ------> B (FUTURE)
In GENERAL TERMS what is the PROBABILITY OF THINGS IN THE PAST that we
do NOT THINK TO BE TRUE, to BECOME TRUE?

In very General / Typical use these IF sentences would be considered IMPOSSIBLE!
EG: If I had been you yeserday...
If you had done that yesterday...
But what possibility is there to change the PAST?
ZERO.

Click me!



And finally for the format...
A (NOW/FUTURE) ----> B (FUTURE)
What PROBABILITY could these type of IF Structures have?

Well EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE in the FUTURE...
Aliens, Ghosts, ANYTHING...
So they can be IMPROBABLE, (less than 50%)
or PROBABLE (more than 50%)
or CERTAIN (100%).
Only the Impossible is excluded!

Click me!



So LAST QUESTION in this PART...
What are the 5 BASIC Conditional Messages?

A (PAST) ------> B (PAST = Effect NOW), with a Probability of 0%
A (PAST) ------> B (FUTURE), with a Probability of 0%
A (NOW/FUTURE) ----> B (FUTURE), with a Probability of less than 50%.
A (NOW/FUTURE) ----> B (FUTURE), with a Probability of more than 50%.
A (NOW/FUTURE) ----> B (FUTURE), with a Probability of 100%.

Hmmm.... interesting... 5 'Classic' Conditional Messages!
Just like your textbooks perhaps!!!!!
Let's look at these 5 Classic Conditionals....

Click me!


[Sourced: EnglishAdam.com]

Test Your Knowledge!

Question


What are the 5 BASIC Conditional Messages?

Theory Test


Click to show

Answer


PAST --> PAST

PAST --> NOW/FUTURE

NOW/FUTURE --> FUTURE
(improbable),

NOW/FUTURE --> FUTURE
(probable)

NOW/FUTURE --> FUTURE
(certain)

Notes


Click to show

Notes


No specific notes on this question yet, sorry.
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