page aims to help you with the grammar of conditional clauses.
Conditional sentences are often used in written and spoken academic
communication. You will find that they are particularly important in assignments
that require you to analyse problems and their solutions. Conditional clauses
usually begin with if or unless. The main clause often contains a
If you revise thoroughly, you will pass the
You use unless to express a negative
You won’t pass the examination unless you revise
1. Real conditions
You use a ‘real’ conditional clause when you want to discuss a
possible future occurrence. In this sentence, the writer points to the possible
consequences of the Shenzhen River filling up with sea water.
2. Unreal or hypothetical
You use an ‘unreal’ or ‘hypothetical’ conditional clause when
you want to discuss an unlikely situation, e.g. when you want to speculate or
wonder ‘what if’ about a situation or a problem.
You can use the pattern if … were to-infinitive to
discuss an imaginary future situation.
You will sometimes find it interesting to discuss ‘what might have
been’, i.e. to discuss something that might have happened in the past, but did
not actually happen (see Reference Material on Critiquing).
3. Necessary conditions
Sometimes you will need to indicate what is necessary for a situation
to occur. When you want to indicate a necessary condition, you can use the
provided (that) providing (that) on
condition (that) as long as only
If you want to point out that one situation would not affect another,
you can use even if.
For each of the ten sentences below, choose the best answer from
the choices that you are given. If you need help, click on 'Tip'. Check your
answers when you have finished.