It is a pleasure to meet again, I hope you are learning a lot, above all, that your mood does not decline and you continue to know more about the topics that are presented to you. Therefore I invite you to continue in the second class of the course.
Do you remember conditionals?
Conditional tenses are used to speculate about what could happen, what might have happened, and what we wish would happen. In English, most sentences using the conditional contain the word “if”. Many conditional forms in English are used in sentences that verbs in one of the past tenses. This usage is referred to as «the unreal past» we use a past tense, but we are not actually referring to something that happened in the past.
There are four main ways of constructing conditional sentences in English. In all cases, these sentences are made up of an “if” clause and a main clause. In many negative conditional sentences, there is an equivalent sentence construction using «unless» instead of «if».
During this class we will work on
- Second conditional
- Vocabulary on Personal problems
- Elements of a letter of advice
Let´s then start on the review of the first topic.
Desarrollo del tema
As mentioned, there are four types of commonly used conditionals in the English language that are differentiated on the basis of the degree of possibility implied by each of them. They are the first conditional, the second conditional, the third conditional and the zero conditional.
We can start this review by pointing at the following chart:
|Conditional sentence type||Usage||If clause verb tense||Main clause verb tense|
|Zero||General truths||Simple present||Simple present|
|Type 1||A possible condition and its probable result||Simple present||Simple future|
|Type 2||A hypothetical condition and its probable result||Simple past||Type 2|
|Type 3||An unreal past condition and its probable result in the past||Past perfect||Perfect conditional|
This type of conditional is used in situations where there is always the same result…even when we have the conditional structure, there actually no conditional at all.
To understand it further let´s check the following video.
Zero conditional structure
All conditionals have two sentences. The zero conditional structure is as follows:
- If + subject + present simple, subject + present simple
The order of the sentences can change.
- subject + present simple If + subject + present simple
The first part could be the conditional (If), then a comma and the result. But if we start with the result, there is no need for a comma (,).
- If water reaches 100ºC, it boils.
- Water boils if it reaches 100ºC.
zero conditional is used to express facts that are always true or have always the same result, like scientific facts, quantic laws, or general known facts.
It is also called conditional type 1. It is a structure used for talking about
- possibilities in the present or in the future.
To fully understand it, we have to keep in mind that we have: Conditions and Results
The type 1 conditional is used to refer to the present or future where the situation is real. The type 1 conditional refers to a possible condition and its probable result. In these sentences the “if” clause is in the simple present, and the main clause is in the simple future. The first conditional has the present simple after ‘if’ (conditional), then the future simple in the other clause (result):
- if + present simple, … will + infinitive
It’s used to talk about things which might happen in the future. Of course, we can’t know what will happen in the future, but this describes possible things, which could easily come true.
|Conditional: Dependent Clause||Result: Independent/Main Clause|
|If I study today,||I’ll go to the party tonight|
|If I have enough money,||I’ll buy some new shoes.|
|If you tell her this,||she will understand.|
The order can be reverted with the same meaning
- She’ll be late if the train is delayed.
- She’ll miss the bus if she doesn’t leave soon.
Watch the following video:
If you still have problems with the structure, check this video:
The second conditional is like the first conditional. We are still thinking about the future. We are thinking about a particular condition in the future, and the result of this condition. But there is not a real possibility that this condition will happen. For example, you do not have a lottery ticket. Is it possible to win? No! No lottery ticket, no win! But maybe you will buy a lottery ticket in the future. So you can think about winning in the future, like a dream. It’s not very real, but it’s still possible. It is used for unreal possibility
- If I won the lottery, I would buy a car.
Past Simple would + base verb
If I won the lottery, I would buy a car.
Notice that we are thinking about a future condition. We use the Past Simple tense to talk about the future condition. We use would + base verb to talk about the future result. The important thing about the second conditional is that there is an unreal possibility that the condition will happen.
Look at these example sentences:
|would + base verb||Past Simple|
|I would be happy if||I married Mary.|
|She would marry Ram||if he became rich.|
|Would you be surprised||if it snowed next July?|
|it snowed next July?||it snowed next July?|
Sometimes, we use should, could or might instead of would, for example:
- If I won a million dollars, I could stop working.
For more check the following video:
In grammar books you are normally taught the following rule:
- I / he / she / it – WAS
- We / you / they – WERE
This is correct when we are talking about the PAST TENSE.
BUT there is another situation in which WERE appears that is not the past tense. It also appears in the SUBJUNCTIVE mood: If I were you.
If I were you … is used when giving ADVICE about what you would do in the same situation as the other person. You imagine yourself in their position or situation and what you would do or how you would react.
- If I were you, I would study more.
- If I were you, I would stop doing that.
- If I were you, I would go to the doctor.
- If I were you, I wouldn’t play with those wires.
Though in informal (and grammatically incorrect) English, you may hear some people say If I was… This usage doesn’t sound good, so avoid it.
You can also change the order of the sentence.
- I would study more if I were you.
- I would be more careful if I were you.
- I wouldn’t do that if I were you.
Notice how the comma is not necessary with this word order.
Why do you use IF I WERE and not IF I WAS?
The reason we use WERE instead of WAS is because the sentence is in the SUBJUNCTIVE mood which is used for hypothetical situations. This is a condition which is contrary to fact or reality (the fact is, I am NOT you).
In the subjunctive mood we use IF + I / HE / SHE / IT + WERE for the verb To Be.
- If I were not in debt, I would quit my job. (But the contrary is true, I AM in debt, so I cannot quit my job)
- If he were taller, he’d be accepted into the team.
- She would be still be correcting my grammar if she were still alive.
In informal English, you will hear some people say If I was… If he was… etc. Again, this usage doesn’t sound good though unfortunately it is common, especially on the internet (and social media sites).
Can IF I WAS ever be correct?
Yes, though the sentence is not in the Subjunctive mood but the Indicative instead. Note that it is not common to use the indicative mood with IF. Let’s compare:
- If I was sick, she would give me medicine that tasted terrible.
(indicative = real states, facts or questions in past- in this case, IF can be replaced by WHENEVER)
- If I were sick, I wouldn’t be here.
(subjunctive = hypothetical – I am not sick, but I’m imagining that hypothetical situation)
There is a song on the radio from JB that goes… «If I was your boyfriend, I’d never let you go…» or Bruno Mars “if I was your man”. Well, sorry fans but this is grammatically incorrect. It should be «If I WERE ….»
Why? Because we are talking about a hypothetical situation of me being your boyfriend or your man. It is not real; it is just a situation I am imagining so we need to use the Subjunctive Mood here.
Remember that while using a second conditional that we can put ‘if’ at the beginning, or in the middle. It doesn’t matter at all. For a quick review check:
Also, let’s check:
There is some vocabulary useful while talking about Personal problems: be unemployed, have strict parents, move to another city, argue with a family member, be an only child, getting bad grades, being overweight, having no friends, bullying, being shy, peer pressure, studying and working part-time, friends telling lies/gossip about you.
Think about a hypothetical unreal situation and what would happen if you were in any of those personal problems… for instance:
What would you do if you were an unemployed adult?
- For your answer remember that the structure of the Second conditional is:
- If + subject+ past simple, subject+ would/ wouldn’t/ could/ couldn´t+ verb base form
If I were unemployed, I would….
What about writing a letter or an email to express your answer…
Do you know the elements of a formal letter or the ones for an email?
Let’s check them out…
Writing a letter
A very Important skill to communicate In English Is the Writing Skill, writing is the art of expressing our views, ideas, and thoughts. You can improve your writing by understanding model texts and how they’re structured.
Since you know the importance of writing skills, let’s look at some important writing skills every student must develop in today’s world:
Letters and emails
Nowadays the Email is one of the most widely used forms of communication both in and out of the workplace. Because of its speed and efficiency, you will likely use email in some capacity no matter your role or industry. You can write professional emails for a variety of reasons. For example, you might need to recap an important meeting, exchange information, relay an important update, or just send a letter.
In the old days there were certain elements to paper letter that are still used in emails. Elements of a letter:
- paragraph 1- greetings and opening remarks,
- paragraph 2- advice and expected results,
- paragraph 3- closing remarks.
We are now aware that a well-composed letter or email provides the recipient with a friendly, clear, concise, and actionable message. Have a tangible physical ‘presence’ that will hold attention for longer. People often keep letters for months, while emails are processed and forgotten immediately, and some may consider an email less formal than a letter.
Learning how to write can take practice, but an email is no too different from a letter:
Format and structure of formal email
There are five elements to consider when formatting your email. Here is a breakdown of each:
Can you identify these parts in the following example?
Furthermore, knowing how to express your opinion in English is valuable whether you are speaking or writing. In an email where you want to express opinion. Many phrases are suitable in everyday speech and some types of writing, such as on blogs and personal websites. You have probably already seen or used some of these phrases:
In my opinion… and
I would say…
For example, imagine you have your own food website. Today you’re writing or talking about the world’s best street food. You might say:
- In my opinion, Mexico City has the best street food.
But suppose you wanted to make the statement stronger. You can do it by adding an adverb or adjective. For example:
- I really think…
- I strongly believe…
- I truly feel… or
- In my honest opinion…
In addition, giving reasons for your opinion adds strength to the claim. Let’s hear the street food statement again:
- In my honest opinion, Mexico City has the best street food. I have never seen more choices of what to eat – and everything I’ve tried has been delicious!
Next, let’s look at a few phrases that are more common in formal situations. You might, for example, hear one of these at a business meeting or a conference, or in a formal paper:
- From my point of view…
- From my perspective…
- In my view… or
- It seems to me that…
Here’s an example:
- In my view, cruise ships should be banned. They produce massive amounts of waste and use the dirtiest fuel in the world.
Though phrases like “In my view…” are usually more formal than ones like “I think,” there is no rule for where or when you can use them. It’s often a matter of personal choice.
For more on how to write and email check the following page: Un correo electrónico a tu profesor
Next, we have some vocabulary about Personal problems:
be unemployed, have strict parents, move to another city, argue with a family member, be an only child, getting bad grades, being overweight, having no friends, bullying, being shy, peer pressure, studying and working part-time, friends telling lies/gossip about you.
Now imagine that your best friend moves to a place with no signal for phone or internet. The only way to keep in touch is by letter. Then write a letter to your friend where you explain any of the personal problems just mentioned. Don´t forget to include:
- paragraph 1- greetings and opening remarks,
- paragraph 2- advice and expected results,
- paragraph 3- closing remarks.
So far, we learned that Conditional tenses are used to speculate about what could happen, what might have happened, and what we wish would happen. In English, most sentences using the conditional contain the word if and there are four main kinds of conditionals:
The Zero Conditional: (if + present simple, … present simple)
If you heat water to 100 degrees, it boils.
The First Conditional: (if + present simple, … will + infinitive)
If it rains tomorrow, we’ll go to the cinema.
The Second Conditional: (if + past simple, … would + infinitive)
If I had a lot of money, I would travel around the world.
Hopefully this review has enlightened you about the conditionals.
During this class, we also practiced writing skills, you may know that writing in English is not really something you can achieve immediately, but with hard, efficient work and gradual improvement you should definitely get there. Start writing very simple sentences and then get the challenge to write more elaborate pieces. Just give it a try!
As for this class you have found that effective writing can be a daunting task as it demands much more than mere correct grammar. You need to gain knowledge about sentence structure, develop your vocabulary, and build other basic writing skills but with practice you may get there soon.
This is how we concluded our second class. You are progressing very well, I congratulate you! Do not forget that to conclude the session you must do the assigned task and send it.
…see you next time.
Fuentes de información
First, Second, and Third Conditional in English – ESL Grammar