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Archive for October, 2009

We have been traveling a lot recently. For some reason, that seems to make us accutely aware of the widespread and interesting usage of the conditional tense. This sparked an idea for a new blog post, so here goes …

conditional: Grammar. (of a sentence, clause, mood, or word) involving or expressing a condition, as the first clause in the sentence If it rains, he won’t go.

We like this explanation from LEO Network:

The conditional tense says that an action is reliant on something else. The two most common conditionals are real and unreal, they are sometimes called if-clauses.

The real conditional (often named 1st Conditional or Conditional Type I) describes situations based on fact.

The unreal conditional (often named 2nd Conditional or Conditional Type II) describes unreal or imaginary situations.

There is also what we call the 3rd conditional (often named Conditional Type III), used to express no possibility of something having happened in the past, and the 0 conditional (often called the zero conditional), used to express absolute certainty.

Unless you are studying English to pass an exam or test don’t try to remember the types, just learn the structure so that you know how to express the meaning conveyed by each type.

Note! If the ‘if’ clause comes first, a comma is usually used. If the “if” clause comes second, there is no need for a comma.”

We mentioned “interesting usage.” Take a look at the following examples and have a chuckle:

In a restaurant, have you ever heard your server say something like this?   
  If you need anything, my name is …That’s great. However, what is your name if I don’t need anything?
  If you’re ready to order, I’ll be over there …So, if I’m not ready to order, where will you be?
When conversing with friends or colleagues …  
  If I don’t see you, have a good trip/holiday/weekend …Alright, if you do see me, do you want me to have a bad time?
On an airplane …  
  If you are unfamiliar with the (insert almost any airport name here) airport, there is a diagram in the in-flight magazine …This one is puzzling … we are very familiar with the mentioned airport. Is there still a diagram in the magazine?

Now, IF you have other examples to share, please feel free to comment!

Sources: Dictionary.com, Learn English, American Airlines Flight Attendant announcements.

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