In today’s podcast we keep a promise made back in podcast 202 and finish our work on English conditional verbs. So today's podcast is an English listen and learn lesson on English grammar.
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Conditionals Thankyou Learnable
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Hi there I’m Hilary and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. Thankyou to Linda who emailed this week, reminding me that I’d promised to do another podcast on conditional verbs – this time talking about how we might use conditional verbs without using ‘if’ or ‘unless’. Well remembered, and thankyou! And please, anyone else who notices that I’ve promised to do a podcast in the future – and I haven’t yet done it.
Please email us (support at adeptenglish.com) and let us know! So if you would like to improve your understanding of English, learn grammar, Adept English is here to help you – this time with conditionals.
So I did a couple of podcasts previously on how to use conditional verbs – and conditional verbs are what you use mostly with ‘if’. If you study English grammar in a more systematic way, you’ll know that when you’re learning conditional verbs in English, they’re split into four types of condition. Type 0, Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3. So looking back, podcast 202 covered Types 0 and 1 and PART TWO, in podcast 210 covered Types 2 and 3. So let’s call this podcast PART THREE.
So in this PART THREE, let’s look at various ways of doing conditional sentences, without using ‘if’ or ‘unless’.
Before we do that, just a reminder that if you want get the most out of our podcasts, get the maximum benefit to your English language learning, then you need to do our free course, The Seven Rules of Adept English. I’m about to teach you an English grammar lesson today – which will be really hard to learn, if you don’t follow the advice of the Seven Rules course.
What I am about to teach you is quite complicated. But for English language speakers, we all just know it automatically. We all just understand and use this grammar without thinking about it. And this is only achieved through the power of listening. So sign up to our Seven Rules course, The Seven Rules of Adept English, to find out why listening is so important! With Adept English, learn grammar so well, that it’s automatic!
So the simplest way that we make conditional sentences, without using ‘if’ or ‘unless’, is simply to use different words to show it’s a condition. As ever, you’ll learn by hearing English grammar in use, so let’s do some examples.
- Provided that it rains in spring, the grass grows. So that’s a Type 0 conditional – present tense in both parts of the sentence.
- With the condition that you pass your exams, you will go to university. That’s a Type 1 conditional – present tense, followed by future tense.
- Assuming that you pass your exams, you will go to university. That’s also a Type 1 conditional.
- On condition that you make the dinner early, we will go to the theatre. That’s a Type 1 conditional.
- Supposing that I won the lottery, I would buy a house in the country. That’s a Type 2 conditional – so these are for unreal situations.
- As long as you had mixed blue and yellow paint, you would have got green. That is a Type 3 conditional – and these types are in the past.
Another way of making a Type 1 conditional sentence without using ‘if’ or ‘unless’, is to use the modal verb ‘should’, S-H-O-U-L-D at the start of the sentence. So an example of this would be ‘Should any problems arise, then come and ask for help’. This just means the same as ‘If any problems arise, then come and ask for help.’ Another example ‘Should you not use all of the money, you can keep it and buy something nice’. So that’s just another way of saying ‘If you don’t use all of the money, you can keep it and buy something nice’. This is mostly used with Type 1 conditionals, so again using previous podcast examples:-
- ‘If you make the dinner early, we will go to the theatre’ – that’s a Type 1 conditional and it becomes ‘Should you make the dinner early, we will go to the theatre’.
- ‘Should there be a problem with the car, he will take it to the garage’.
- ‘Should I be cold, I will put my jacket on.
- ‘Should the weather be sunny, I’ll do some work in the garden.’
Another way to make a Type 2 conditional sentence, without ‘if’ or ‘unless’ – you can use ‘were’, W-E-R-E. Now normally you would use ‘were’ for plural forms of the verb ‘to be’ and the ‘you’ form – and in other tenses too. So ‘We were late’, ‘You were cold’, ‘They were singing’. But ‘were’ can also be used to show a conditional meaning. So you can say ‘If I were to ask for help, you might think badly of me’. But another way of saying this without the ‘if’ would be to start the sentence with ‘were’. ‘Were I to ask for help, you might think badly of me’.
So again, this might sound strange to you, but it’s just another way of making a conditional sentence. And remember that ‘I were’ instead of ‘I was’ - this would be incorrect English in a normal sentence, but in a conditional, it’s OK. You can say ‘If I were…’ or ‘If I was…’ But without the ‘if’, ‘Were they to come and visit us, I wouldn’t let them in’. It’s just another way of saying ‘If they were to come to visit us, I wouldn’t let them in’. So this way of doing conditionals is used mainly with Type 2.
- ‘Were he to ask me out on a date, I’d say no’. So that’s the same as ‘If he asked me out on a date, I’d say no’.
So to give you some more examples, I’ve taken the sentences from the previous podcast which covered Type 2 conditionals and I’ve changed them to use ‘were’ instead, so they sound like this:-
- Were I to win the lottery, I would buy a house in the country.
- Were I 10 years younger, I would have some more children.
- Were he an astronaut, he would fly to the moon.
- Were we ballerinas, we would eat only salad.
I’ve changed the last couple to show you it can be used with different pronouns, but it’s probably more common with ‘I’.
And for type 3 conditionals, there’s another way of wording it too. So you could say ‘If I had realised how much it was going to cost, I wouldn’t have bought an old house’. So that would be a conditional Type 3. ‘If I had….., I wouldn’t have’. Or ‘If you had…., you would have….’ So another way of saying this, without using ‘if’, or ‘unless’ would be ‘Had I realised how much it was going to cost, I wouldn’t have bought an old house’. Or another example – you could say ‘If I’d known it would take so long to walk to the train station, I’d have got a taxi’. So that becomes ‘Had I known how long it would take to walk to the train station, I’d have got a taxi’. And that’s something that we use in both written and spoken English.
Study English Learn Grammar Through Listening-It Is All Conditional Part Three Ep 322 Article Image
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Description: A photograph of a old stone house in Faroe Islands. Used to help explain English grammar conditional verbs.
So some more examples of this form, which is used with Type 3 conditionals, which are past tense, of course – again I’ve taken these examples from the previous podcast:-
- Had you been smiling, you would have looked more friendly.
- Had he had got lost, he would have phoned me.
- Had you mixed blue and yellow paint, you would have got green
- Had he known the biscuits contained nuts, he wouldn’t have eaten them.
Although I’m an English speaker and all of this comes automatically if you speak English enough, doing this podcast has made me have to think! What do we say? When do we use that construct, when do we not? So an English speaker would automatically get the English grammar rules right, but then have to think more carefully, ‘Oh...what actually is the rule that I’m following there? Why does this sound right and why does that sound wrong?’
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As with everything else, it can seem complicated when you first meet it. But all native English speakers would use these conditionals correctly – so with practice, you can learn them too. How? Listening, listening and more listening. That’s what’s key, that’s how you make these complex grammar rules automatic, so you don’t even have to think about them. English speakers aren’t special – it’s learnable by anybody. Just with enough listening, that’s what you need.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.