The IF Conditional – Easy Guide (Learn Step By Step)

Learn the IF Conditional

I will go to Hawaii IF I can find a cheap hotel.

Do you want to improve your English communication and confidence? Learn the IF conditional. Add this to your conversation skills and open up the doors of communication.

First conditional chart


  • I will go to Hawaii.


  • I can find a cheap hotel.

We use the IF conditional to connect these ideas

  • I will go to Hawaii IF I can find a cheap hotel.

Learn the If Conditional

The conditional IF is often used in English, so for me, learning to use it in Japanese was very helpful.

When I learned how to make a conditional sentence in my second language, my ability to share ideas in Japanese greatly improved, and my confidence grew!

Learn the If Conditional

English conditional grammar will help your English conversation skills and your confidence!
Let me share how I learned a simple way to connect conditional actions in my second language with you.


if is a conjunction. We use it to say that one thing can, will, or might happen or be true, depending on another thing happening or being true

If is called a conditional because an IF clause shows that one action or result happens on the condition of another thing happening.
Please look at the following example:

I will go to Hawaii if I can find a cheap hotel.

–The main action is ‘go to Hawaii,’ but this action will only happen on the condition of ‘finding a cheap hotel.

IF Conditional sentences examples

I will go to the party Friday if I have time after work.

Going to the party depends on having time after work.

If we have time maybe we can grab a coffee before the movie starts.

Getting a coffee depends on having enough time before the movie start time.

Sentences with If are often used with the negative forms of modal verbs (won’t, can’t, etc.)

  • We won’t play soccer tomorrow if it rains.

Playing soccer tomorrow depends on the weather.

  • You can’t go into the store if I you don’t wear a mask.

Being allowed in the store to shop depends on wearing a mask.

IF clause

When the verb in the ‘IF’ clause is in the present tense the verb in the main clause will be in the future tense. This is known as the First Conditional.

Do you know what a clause is?(grammar) a group of words that includes a subject and a verb, and forms a sentence or part of a sentence

The part of the sentence with the word that includes the word IF is our IF clause. Clauses are separated by commas.

  • If I prepare a healthy lunch at home, I’ll save money. Eating out every day is expensive.

Our IF clause is ~ If I prepare a healthy lunch at home,

The verb in the IF clause is prepare, it’s in the present tense.

The verb in the following clause is will save, this is the future tense of the verb to save.

Learn the If Conditional
If I prepare a healthy lunch at home, I’ll save money.

Learn the If Conditional – Word order

The clause IF can come after the main action:
“I will go to Hawaii if I can find a cheap hotel.”

Or it can start a sentence and end with the main action:
If I can find a cheap hotel, I will go to Hawaii.”

I will go to Hawaii if I can find a cheap hotel. – The main action is ‘go to Hawaii,’ but this action can only happen as a result of ‘finding a cheap hotel.’ (On the condition of finding a cheap hotel)

“I would eat this ice cream if I wasn’t on a diet!”
If I eat this ice cream, I’ll regret it tomorrow.”

First Conditional examples

When we learn the conditional IF, like all new English grammar, it helps to have many example sentences. When I study Japanese I LOVE having many real examples that use the new grammar. Here are a few examples.

If you make your own lunch, you will know what’s in it. Lunches that are made in convenience stores have lots of unnatural ingredients in them to make them last longer.

 Ken will feel much better if he has a healthier diet.

If you eat at organic restaurants once in a while, you might find something you really like that is also very healthy!

If Josh stops eating donuts for breakfast he could fit into his old suit before our class reunion next September.

If Josh goes to the reunion, I’m sure it will be fun! Everyone loves Josh.

If I study English every day, I will be able to make new friends from other countries.

I will call you later if I’m not busy.

Other conditional forms

This blog post is a basic guide to IF used as a first conditional. It is a simple pattern that you can use a lot in natural English conversation so it’s a great place to start.

Here are some quick examples of other kinds of conditional sentences with an IF clause. You may have a chance to use this English grammar in conversation.

Zero conditional

This form is used to show something that is generally true.

  • If you put water in the freezer it will become ice. (Again the IF clause can go at the beginning of the sentence or in between clauses.)
  • Water will become ice IF you put it in the freezer.

Zero conditional can also use WHEN instead of IF because the condition usually follows every time.

  • Water will become ice WHEN you put it in the freezer.

Learn another, natural way to talk about change

Third conditional

This form shows that the situation now would not be the same if something different had happened in the past.

If I had known that the boss was coming, I would have worn a tie.

This form uses the past perfect (had known) plus would have, could have, etc. plus the past participle. (WORN is the past participle of the verb TO WEAR. wear – wore – worn)

Learn the Perfect tense

There is are other conditional forms used with IF. You can find more information here –

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