EFL ESL website
Conditionals: Is it real or
Today's essay question is:
If you could change one
important thing about your hometown, what would you change? Use reasons
and specific examples to support your answer.
Essay questions are often like this. They
ask you to imagine a non-real situation. In order to answer you must
use special type of sentence ( a special set of grammar rules ). These
are called 'conditionals'.*
0: If you do bad things to people, bad things happen to you.
( All the time. A universal truth. There is no 'will' in the second clause.)
1: If you work hard in class, you will get a good grade.
( Future. It will
probably come true. It is real.)
If I were the
mayor of my town, I would
make more parks.
( Imaginary present
and future. Impossible. Non-real. In the 'if' clause, am, is, and are
all become were, all
other verbs become simple past. The 'would' makes it
3: If they had made a
station near my house, I wouldn't
have had to walk so
far to school when I was young.
( Imaginary past.
Non-real. Regret? Past participle (ίͺjcomes after had, or would have )
2 and 3 mixes: If there had been a tennis court in my
neigborhood, I would be
much better player today.
( An imaginary past
creates an imaginary present or future, or visa-versa. Non-real.)
Note: In reality, many people use
simple past instead of past participle ( like in 3 ) and 'was' instead
of 'were' ( like in 2 ). It doesn't sound strange, but don't write it
on a test!
The main point is when you start using past tense to talk about now or
the future, it becomes 'non-real'.
As you can see, you
will need to use 2, and 3 a lot to write this essay. One more thing!
Look at the 'they' in 3. This 'they' means the government, or city
hall, business people or whoever does this sort of thing (make
stations). You will probably use this 'they' a lot too.
Now go to 'Quizlab'
and take the quiz called 'conditionals'. You may look at this page
while you take the quiz.
* The U.S., Great Britian,
and Japan all have different ways of explaining this English grammar. Some say it is
all 'conditional' (πΆ), but some say there are two types, 'conditionals' (πΆ),
and 'subjunctive mood' (Όθ@).