How to use first conditional in English

In this series of video lessons on English conditional sentences, we've already looked at the zero conditional. Now we're going to focus on how and when we use the first conditional and the difference between zero and first.


Hi everyone, in this video lesson we're going to look at conditionals that we use to describe real situations in the present and the future. This is what we call the first conditional. These are situations that are possible or probable. Situations that could happen. So these are expressed with the first conditional. We're going to look at some examples to see how we use the first conditional and we'll also look at the form of the first conditional so we know how to use it. And then finally, we'll do a short quiz to help you practise.

So, as I said and as with the zero conditional, the first conditional refers to real situations. If one thing happens, then another thing will happen. That's the condition. So let's look at an example. If it rains, I will stay at home. So the condition is: if the weather is bad, then I will make the decision not to leave the house. But if the weather is good, if it's sunny, then I will leave the house. So this is the condition. So, 'if it rains, I will stay at home'. Or, 'if it is sunny, I will go out'. 'If you don't lend me some money, I won't be able to go out tonight'. This sounds a little bit like a threat, so we often use first conditional to make threats, to tell people if they don't do something, we will do something bad to them! For example, 'if you do that again, I'll punch you!'

So let's have a look at the structure of the first conditional. 'If' plus present simple and then in the main clause 'will' plus the bare infinitive. Once again, you can put the main clause first and put the 'if' clause second, but if you do, no comma. For example, 'if it rains, I will stay at home'. Or, 'I will stay at home if it rains', but in the second example you don't need the comma. Remember again with auxiliary verbs we normally contract them. We shorten them, we squeeze the words together, which makes them easier to say. Again, this is more common when we're speaking rather than writing. So, 'if it rains, I'll stay at home'. 'If it's sunny, we'll go to the beach'.

You can also use other modal verbs to express possibility. So, 'if it's sunny tomorrow, I might go to the beach'. Or, 'if it's sunny tomorrow, maybe we'll go to the beach'. Or, 'if it's sunny tomorrow, we should go to the beach'.

OK, let's play a quick game of zero or first. So I'm going to give you a few example sentences and I want you to decide is this a zero conditional sentence or a first conditional sentence?

Number one. 'Chocolate melts if you heat it'.

Number two. 'If you don't drop that gun, I'll shoot!'

Number three. 'If I lose my job, I won't be able to pay my rent'.

Number four. 'My brother helps me with my homework if he has time'.

Number five. 'I'll help you with your homework if I have time'.

Number six. 'I might go out with you if you ask me'.

Number seven. 'When autumn arrives, most trees lose their leaves'.

Number eight. 'If I don't work harder, I may lose my job!'

OK, that's it. That's the first conditional. If it's not clear, go back and watch the video again. It's much easier the second time. Like the video, share it with your friends and subscribe to my channel and go to where you can find full courses to help you improve every aspect of your English. If you like, share and subscribe, I'll make more videos for you! That's another first conditional for you! OK, good luck, keep practising and I'll see you in the next video.