First Conditional Lesson

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The first conditional is used to express something that will possibly happen in the present or future. Unlike the zero conditional, which expresses conditions that are generally true (or scientifically proven), the first conditional conveys something that might happen if certain conditions are met.

In a first conditional sentence, the conditional clause can use a variety of present verb forms while the result clause must use the future form with ‘going to’, ‘will’ or the future perfect. As there is an element of uncertainty in the first conditional, the result clause can also use the modals ‘may’ or ‘might’.


  If/Unless clause (condition)                     Main clause (result)

       If /Unless this thing happens                 that thing might happen.


In a first conditional sentence, the clauses are interchangeable but pay close attention to where the comma goes. Only use a comma if the conditional clause comes first.

If you work hard, you will succeed.

You will succeed if you work hard.

If we go to New York, we’re going to visit the Statue of Liberty. 

We’re going to visit the Statue of Liberty if we go to New York.

If you arrive at Pearce Station, you’ll have gone too far.

You’ll have gone too far if you arrive at Pearce Station.

If it’s a nice day, we might go to the beach.

We might go to the beach if it’s a nice day.

Unless they meet the deadline, the manager will be furious.

The manager will be furious unless they meet the deadline.

Exercise 1: below are examples of different situations the first conditional might be used for. Show students the situations one by one and have them, in groups, brainstorm more examples following the rules for the first conditional.

Sunny day:

  1. If it’s a sunny day, we’re going to go for a picnic.

  2. We will stay home unless it’s a sunny day.

(3 minutes to brainstorm more possibilities for a sunny day)

Homework not done:

  1. If you don’t do your homework, the teacher will punish you.

  2. The teacher will get angry unless you do your homework.

(3 minutes to brainstorm more possibilities for homework not done)

Go to London:

  1. If I go to London, I will go to an Arsenal game.

  2. I might visit the London Eye if I go to London.

(3 minutes to brainstorm more possibilities going to London)

Win the lottery:

  1. If I win the lottery, I will travel the world.

  2. I will buy a Mercedes if I win the lottery.

(3 minutes to brainstorm more possibilities going to London)

Exercise 2:print out and cut up a set of cards for each group and instruct them to match two clauses to make first conditional sentences.

As an extra activity, have each group work together to write the sentences accurately, focusing on the correct punctuation.

For higher level students or groups that finish quickly, have them write the other possible way each sentence could be written.


Exercise 3: correct the errors in the following zero conditional sentences.

  1. If he went to the restaurant, he would have tried the steak.

  2. If they go to the park they will have flown a kite.

  3. They got a bonus if they met their deadline.

  4. Unless she studied hard, she will not pass the exam.

  5. If you stopped eating junk food, you will get fat.

Exercise 4 & 5:Worksheet