May 21, 2023, Comment off

Conditional Clauses: Real and Unreal

Real Conditional Clauses

To understand how to construct real conditional clauses, use the following solution with a focus on the definition, structure, and examples. By exploring these sub-sections, you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of how real conditional clauses are used to describe a situation in which the condition is likely to be true.


Real conditional clauses are sentences that express real or potential situations. They have two parts: an “if clause” condition and a “result clause” which shows the outcome if the condition is met. These clauses are used to discuss factual situations, events, and likely possibilities. The “if” clause can be in present or past tense, while the result clause follows a modal verb like “can” or “will.”

It is important to identify if the sentence is referring to the present/future or past.

Knowing when and how to use this structure correctly is key for professional communication.


Real conditional clauses must be understood to use them correctly. They include two parts: an “if” clause and a result clause. The “if” clause states a hypothetical situation. The result clause shows what will happen if the “if” clause’s condition is met.

These clauses are factual, not hypothetical. The tense used depends on the time of its condition and result. For example, present tense for current events, or past tense for past situations.


Real conditional clauses have different forms. They use “if” to express a condition that must be met to get a certain result. For instance: “If it rains, I will stay at home.” Present or future tense can also be used. The meaning stays the same, even when the word order changes.

It’s important to know how to use these correctly. They are different from unreal conditional clauses which express impossible or imaginary situations.

In an English class, students played a game to practice using real conditional clauses. They predicted outcomes based on scenarios. This helped them understand the sentence structure and have fun with their classmates.

Mastering real conditional clauses is vital for communication and writing tasks. People can express possibilities and actions more accurately and effectively.

Unreal Conditional Clauses

To understand unreal conditional clauses with definition, structure, and examples, you need to delve deeper. You’ll learn about how these clauses are used to describe imaginary or impossible situations and their different structures. Plus, you’ll gain a clear understanding of unreal conditional clauses with numerous examples that paint a vivid picture.


Unreal conditional clauses use an if-then structure. The if clause contains a hypothetical condition, and the then clause contains the resulting outcome with the word ‘would’.

We classify unreal conditional clauses into two categories – Type 2 and Type 3. Type 2 clauses express improbable conditions in the present or future. For example, “If I had more time, I would travel more.”

Non-native speakers may find these structures confusing due to their different grammatical rules. In contrast to real conditional clauses which reflect real events, unreal conditional clauses usually discuss imaginary, impossible, or unlikely scenarios. For instance, “If I were a bird, I would fly across vast oceans.”


To understand unreal conditional clauses, a closer inspection is necessary. These clauses express unlikely events that are unlike real-life circumstances.

We must remember the special characteristics of each clause type:

  • If-clause: Present Simple
  • Result-clause: Modal Verb/Would+Base Form

For First Condition:

  • If + Simple Present
  • Will/Could/Might + Base Form

For Second Condition:

  • If + Past Simple
  • Would/Could/Might+Base Form

The syntax of unreal conditional clauses can be confusing for beginners. But, mastering these clauses can help you improve your writing and make it easier for your readers to understand. Don’t let doubt stop you from creating great content!

Examples – Unleash Creativity with Unreal Conditionals!

These unique clauses are essential in communication, enabling speakers to express hypothetical or impossible situations. They often start with “if” and create depth and variety to writing.

Here’s how to use them:

  1. Imagination: Use unreal conditionals to express unlikely scenarios, like, “If I could time travel, I’d go back in time and alter history.”
  2. Creative Writing: Unreal conditionals are an essential tool for authors to add intrigue to the plot. Lewis Carroll famously said, “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense.”
  3. Business Scenarios: They’re commonly used to discuss proposals and business opportunities, such as, “If our company has sufficient funds, we will launch a new product this year.”
  4. Suspenseful Choices: Give readers a choice between possibilities to create suspense and involve them further in the plot.

Unreal conditionals have been sharpening literature since William Shakespeare wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on.” This sentence offers a condition that adds poetic value.

Differences between Real and Unreal Conditional Clauses

To understand the differences between real and unreal conditional clauses, you need to delve into the use of verb tenses, probability, expressions, and examples. These sub-sections provide solutions to recognize and differentiate between hypothetical situations from real ones.

Use of Verb Tenses

Real and Unreal Conditional Clauses have distinct verb tenses. Real Conditional Clauses mostly use Present Simple, while Unreal Conditional Clauses use Past Simple and modal verbs such as ‘could’ or ‘would.’

Real Conditional Clauses express possible outcomes of present or future events. Whereas, Unreal Conditional Clauses express unlikely scenarios. Thus, the tenses and modal verbs indicate likelihood.

It is important to recognize that these clauses have different meanings based on their tenses. To communicate effectively in English, knowledge of this distinction is essential.

Additionally, time adverbs like ‘if,’ ‘when,’ or ‘unless’ can also modify the meaning of the clauses. Cambridge Dictionary emphasizes that understanding these is crucial for non-native speakers to enhance their English skills.


Ever pondered the chance of a particular thing occurring? Conditional clauses express possibility and probability. They can be separated into real and unreal.

We explain the difference between real and unreal in a table. It has two columns. One for real conditional clauses, and the other for Unreal. The rows show the distinct features such as type of verb tense used, likelihood of it happening, and potential outcome.

It’s noteworthy that not all conditionals are hypothetical. Whether it is true or not depends on if it is likely to happen in reality.

Real and unreal conditional clauses have different roles. Real conditionals demonstrate that something is true when conditions are met. For instance, if you work hard (condition), you will pass (outcome). Unreal conditionals demonstrate an improbable event with an unlikely outcome: If I had more money (hypothetical), I would travel around the world (unlikely).


Real and Unreal conditional clauses have a few differences.

Real are formed with “if” and simple present tense, and are used to talk about possible events. Examples: “If I go to bed early, I will wake up early.” and “If he eats too much, he will feel sick.”

Unreal are formed with “if” plus past perfect tense, and are used to talk about improbable or impossible events. Examples: “If I had more money, I would live in a bigger house.” and “If she studied harder, she would have passed the exam.”

Verb tenses always need to follow a pattern to tell if a sentence is Real or Unreal.
We can also use modal verbs like “could,” “might,” or “would” instead of “if” when talking about unreal events in the past.


We must explore the ways Real and Unreal Conditional Clauses differ, by examining examples.

  • Real: If I have time, I will go for a run.
  • Unreal: If I had time, I would go for a run.
  • Real Clauses use present simple tense for real-life situations or future possibilities.
  • Unreal Clauses imply hypothetical or imaginary situations. They use past simple tense.
  • Real Clauses are more certain. Unreal Clauses express an improbable situation.
  • Analyze grammar and tenses to distinguish a real or unreal clause.

It’s important to know both types of clauses for accurate communication. Grammar mastery is necessary to construct correct sentences.
Pro tip: Analyze sentence structure and tenses to make sure you’re using the right clause type. Practice this to master it.

Mixed Conditional Clauses

To understand the intricacies of mixed conditional clauses, delve into the definition, structure, and examples of this grammatical structure. This will help you effectively use mixed conditionals in your writing and speech, preventing any confusion between the past, present and future conditions.


Mixed conditionals are sentences with both present and past or future verbs. They’re used to express a hypothetical or unreal situation in the present.

For example, “If I were rich (present unreal), I would have bought a yacht (past unreal).” Here, two unreal conditionals are used: Type 2 (second conditional) for present unreal and Type 3 (third conditional) for past unreal.

Mixed conditionals can be tricky. You need to know how each type works and when to choose the right tense. The precise meaning of these clauses can make a big difference in communication.


Discussing the format of mixed conditionals? Here are 4 key points to consider:

  1. Both halves use ‘if.’
  2. Unreal situations: past & present.
  3. Hypothetical past event & real result in present? Use 3rd conditional in if-clause & 2nd in main clause.
  4. Unreal past event & present state? Use 2nd conditional in if-clause & 3rd in main clause.


Mixed conditionals combine reality and hypothetical scenarios. These sentences express a past event that doesn’t match current facts, such as “If I had studied harder, I would be further along in my career.” The if clause looks to the past, while the main clause looks to the present.

The same structure can refer to an impossible past event with a hypothetical present or future. For example, “If I had been born rich, I wouldn’t struggle so much to achieve my goals.” Here, the main clause is about something that could happen today or tomorrow, if things were different.

Mixed conditional clauses are tricky for learners. They must understand time references and grammar rules. This can be tough in practice interviews at language learning centers, where incorrect answers are common. To improve, try repeating and understanding the structure and context of each sentence.

Common Errors in Conditional Clauses

To avoid making common errors in your conditional clauses, it’s essential to improve your understanding of the subject.

Subject-Verb Agreement

It is vital to ensure verbs agree with their subject in conditional clauses. The verb must match the number and tense of the subject.

Be aware of subject-verb agreement when forming conditional sentences. Wrong verb use can result in obscure communication, grammatical mistakes, and incoherence. To communicate well, pay attention to this.

Parallelism should also be remembered when writing conditional clauses. This produces phrases that are more pleasant to read and hear. It creates rhythm and makes the message clearer.

To maintain subject-verb agreement, rephrase confusing sentences. Focus on both parts of the clause. Make sure they are syntactically aligned. Investing time into self-editing and polishing text helps to identify and rectify mistakes and enhances readability.

Incorrect Use of If

When using conditional clauses, ‘if’ can sometimes be used incorrectly. This often happens when it’s used for a condition that has already been stated or when it’s used to indicate a sequence without any logical connection. Try instead using alternative words such as ‘since’, ‘when’ or ‘in case’.

Be aware of the tense. It’s essential to use the correct one as it can alter the meaning. And the order of the clauses matters too – changing this can also change the meaning.

Be careful not to overuse conditional clauses. Too much can lead to ambiguity and make writing less clear.

Use of Wrong Verb Tense

Beware! Wrong use of verb tenses in conditional clauses can cause misunderstanding. It’s important to pick the correct tense according to the situation. Using past forms of verbs like ‘would’ or ‘could’ alongside present-tense verbs is also a no-no.

To get it right, make sure the verb tense fits the timeframe of the hypothetical scenario. For future events, use future forms such as ‘will’ or ‘shall.’ For current conditions and past scenarios, use present and past tense. In case of an uncertain event, use modal verbs like ‘may’ or ‘might.’

Subjunctive mood should be used for unlikely situations, desires or suggestions as they don’t have a real existence. Ergo, they shouldn’t be stated in specific tenses.

Be cautious when writing conditional clauses. Incorrect verb tenses can lead to ambiguous sentences that harm readability and carry conflicting meanings.


Conditional Clauses: Common Errors to Avoid

Conditional clauses are an important part of the English language. But many people make mistakes when using them. To make sure you communicate effectively, here are some common errors to watch out for:

  1. Make sure you use the right tense. Keep it consistent!
  2. Pay attention to word order – it’s important.
  3. Don’t use double negatives – it can get confusing.

Remember, subordinating conjunctions like ‘if’, ‘when’, ‘though’, and ‘although’ introduce dependent clauses in conditional sentences.


Understanding real and unreal conditional clauses is key for accurate grammar. Keeping tense consistency and utilizing “if” correctly helps express meaning clearly. Omitting “if” changes the sentence’s meaning. Real conditionals are possible while unreal ones are hypothetical. Knowing these nuances enhances written and spoken communication.

Real and unreal conditionals make legal documents, contracts, and academic writing more precise. Real conditionals subject-verb agreement remains constant. Unreal conditionals require subjects to agree with auxiliary verbs. Mastering conditionals enhances language proficiency.

Sometimes, conditionals become too long or difficult. Simplifying without dropping complexity makes text easier to understand. Imperative voice may be better in contexts where shortness matters more than detail.

In conclusion, knowledge of real and unreal conditional clauses minimizes misunderstandings and boosts proficiency for those who frequently use written communication, while reducing potential liability for legal documents if not used correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are conditional clauses?

A: Conditional clauses are sentences that express a condition and its probable or possible result.

Q: What is a real conditional clause?

A: A real conditional clause is used to express a possible or probable result in the present or future if the condition in the clause is fulfilled.

Q: What is an unreal conditional clause?

A: An unreal conditional clause is used to express an imaginary or hypothetical result in the present or future if the condition in the clause is not fulfilled.

Q: What is the structure of a real conditional clause?

A: A real conditional clause has two parts: the if-clause (condition) and the main clause (result). The if-clause uses the present simple tense and the main clause uses the future simple tense or modal verbs like can, may, might, etc.

Q: What is the structure of an unreal conditional clause?

A: An unreal conditional clause also has two parts: the if-clause (condition) and the main clause (result). The if-clause uses the past simple tense and the main clause uses the would + infinitive construction.

Q: What are some common examples of real and unreal conditional clauses?

A: Real conditional clause example: If it rains, I will stay home. Unreal conditional clause example: If I had more money, I would buy a car.