English First Conditionals


This module covers first conditionals in English, which are statements about future that are likely to happen.

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The first conditional is used to express things that are possible and likely to happen in the future. It consists of two components: an “if” clause in the present simple tense, and a future simple main clause. As a reminder, the future simple contains the auxiliary verb “will” followed by an infinitive.

If it hails, I will seek shelter.
They will call if they get lost.
He will eat a snack, if he gets hungry.
If the weather is good, we will go to the beach.

There are contractions used with the verb “will,” so here’s a refresher to help you recognize those forms:

Personal pronoun + ‘ + ll
– I’ll, you’ll, he’ll, she’ll, it’ll, we’ll, they’ll

Personal pronoun + will + not (negative form) + infinitive
– I won’t go, you won’t go, she won’t go, we won’t go, they won’t go

The first conditional differs from the zero conditional in that it is about a specific situation, whereas the zero conditional is about more general things (facts, truths, etc.).

If you exercise daily, you feel better. (general statement)
If you exercise today, you will feel better. (specific time [“today”])

As can be seen, it is generally accepted that daily exercise can improve your health, but exercising specifically today is likely to happen and make that person feel better.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.