Languages › English as a Second Language The Basics of If Sentences Share Flipboard Email Print Ian Taylor/Getty Images English as a Second Language Grammar Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Writing Skills Reading Comprehension Business English Resources for Teachers By Kenneth Beare English as a Second Language (ESL) Expert TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music Kenneth Beare is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and course developer with over three decades of teaching experience. our editorial process Kenneth Beare Updated November 13, 2019 English learners should learn if sentences, also known as conditional forms, in order to discuss various possibilities that are either realistic or imaginary. Follow the introduction below, you will find a grammar overview and explanation for each tense. Once you are familiar with these forms, use the referenced materials to practice and further your understanding of these forms. Teachers can print out the comprehension materials related to the materials, as well as the suggested lesson plans with point-by-point instructions on how to teach the conditional forms in class. If Sentences If sentences are used to discuss things that happen based on the condition that something else happens. There are three main types of if sentences. Use an if sentence in the first conditional to consider real, possible events in the present or future: If it rains, I'll take an umbrella. Use an if sentences in the second conditional to speculate about unreal, improbable events in the present moment or future: If I had a million dollars, I'd buy a big house. An if sentence in the third conditional concerns imaginary (unreal) outcomes of past events: If he had spent more time studying, he would have passed the exam. If Sentence Forms Overview If Sentence # 1 = First Conditional If + S + present simple + objects, S + will + verb + objects-> If the boys finish their homework early, they will play baseball. If Sentence # 2 = Second Conditional If + S + past simple + objects, S + would + verb + objects-> If he bought a new car, he would buy a Ford. If Sentence # 3 = Third Conditional If + S + past perfect + objects, S + would have + past participle + objects-> If she had seen him, she would have discussed the issues with him. Study If Sentences In-Depth Here is a detailed guide to all conditional forms with examples, important exceptions to the rules and a structured guide. The alternate guide provides options for advanced level learners. Finally, this guide to choosing between the first or second conditional provides further help in deciding whether to use the real or unreal conditional. Teach About If Sentences This first and second conditional forms lesson employs reading comprehension about emergencies to help students discover and review the forms. Once students are comfortable with the form, they discuss other difficult or unusual situations using the first and second conditional This conditionals tic-tac-toe is a great game to help students review all three if sentence forms.