If you want to achieve a high score on the IELTS exam, you will need to master one of the most complicated parts of English learning, conditionals. Conditional tenses are used to speculate about what could happen, what might have happened, and what we wish would happen.
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Three different types of conditionals in English
1. If + Subject + V (Present), Subject ＋ will/might/may/can + V (infinitive without to)
This type of conditional is used to express something which is possible in the future.
- Example: If I have money, I will buy the car. (I don’t have the money now but I think it is possible I will in the future.)
Note: you can put the two clauses of the sentence in either order.
2. If + Subject + Verb (past simple) + Verb, Subject + would/should/could/might + V (Infinitive without to)
This conditional is used to express something which is currently impossible, or possible but not likely in the future.
- Example 1: If I had money, I would buy a car. (but I don’t have money now)
- Example 2: If I were an English native speaker, I would not need to study IELTS (I am not English.)
- Example 3: If it was sunny tomorrow, I would go to the park (I don’t think it will be sunny tomorrow.)
3. If + Subject + had + Verb (Past Participle), Subject + would/should/could/might + have Verb (Past participle)
This conditional is slightly tricky, combining points 1 and 2 if xxxx (Past 1) and YYY (Present 2).
This describes a situation in the past which is now impossible to change. We often use this for regrets.
- Example: If I had studied harder, I would have passed my exam. (I didn’t study so I didn’t pass my exam.
Advanced IELTS Conditional Tip
You can express the desire which is impossible to be real; or less likely to happen by using ‘I wish’ or ‘If only’.
- Example: I wish the rain would stop for a moment.
- Example: If only I could be an English native speaker.
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