How to use zero conditional in English

In this new series of video lessons, we're going to look at English conditional sentences, starting with the simplest, which is the zero conditional. How do we use the zero conditional and why do we need it in English?


Hi everyone, in this video we're going to look at the zero conditional. This is used to describe situations that are always true. We often use the zero conditional to describe scientific facts and laws. Laws of nature. These are things that can't change. We can't change them. They're always the same. We'll take a look at how these sentences are formed and then we'll look at a few examples to help us understand it even better. Of all the conditional sentences, this is the conditional with the simplest, the easiest structure. In fact, as the name suggests, the zero conditional, there is no condition attached to this sentence. This is something which is always true and never changes.

Let's look at a simple example. 'If you heat water, it boils'. Actually 'if' in this type of sentence really means 'when', because obviously this always happens. 'If you heat water, it boils'. This is always true.

Let's look at another example. 'If you heat ice, it melts'. Again, this is a scientific law, this never changes. If ice gets hot, it turns back to water. 'If you heat ice, it melts'. Or, 'if you freeze water, it turns to ice'. 'If you eat too much, you get fat'. 'If you stand in the rain, you get wet'. 'If you stay in the sun too long, you get burnt'. 'When the sun sets, night begins'.

OK, let's look at the structure of zero conditionals. As I said, very simple. In the 'if' clause, it's 'if' plus the present simple, and in the main clause the verb is, again, present simple. You could swap the clauses around, so you could start with the main clause and then have the 'if' clause second, but in this case there's no comma in the middle. So, 'if' clause, comma, main clause, or main clause, 'if' clause. So, if 'if' is in the middle, there's no comma. So for example, 'If you heat water, it boils' or 'Water boils if you heat it'.

OK, quite straightforward. So we're going to do a little quiz. I'm going to show you a few images and I'll give you a few seconds to think about the image and think about a zero conditional sentence to describe that image and then the answer will come straight after. If you need to pause the video to give yourself more time or to write down your sentence, that would be a good idea. So for example, 'If you heat water, it boils'. OK, so here are your images...

So that's it, that's the zero conditional. Very straightforward. If it's not clear you can always go back and watch the video again. If you have any questions, you can always put them in the comments below. Don't forget to like, share and subscribe to this video. And finally, go to where you can find full courses to help you improve every aspect of your English. Keep practising and I'll see you soon!