Zero Conditional

'If you don't eat or drink, you die'. 'If you heat water, it boils'. Zero conditional is used to talk about facts or situations which are always true.

Intermediate
"Zero Conditional" in English Grammar

What Is Zero Conditional?

Zero conditional is often used for something that is generally true and does not change, something that always happens if a condition is met, like a scientific fact. The condition always has the same result.

For example:

If water reaches 100 degrees Centigrade, it boils.

Water always boils when it is heated. It's a fact. That is why this sentence is a zero conditional sentence.

Zero Conditional: Structure

The basic structure of a zero type conditional is like this:
'If A, B' or,
'If + condition, result'.
A and B are usually in the present simple tense. The present simple describes facts. But, the result can also be in imperative mood. Here are the examples:

If you heat the water, it boils.

This is an example of Type 0 conditionals. The condition always has the same result.

If you travel to London, go to the Buckingham Palace.

Here, the result is in imperative mood.

If Clauses

An if clause is the conditional clause that starts with 'if.' You have to use a comma (,) at the end of an if-clause.' 'If clause' usually comes at the beginning of the sentence.
The part or clause after the comma (,) is called the result or the main clause. For example:

If you mix red paint and yellow paint, you get orange paint.

'If you mix red paint and yellow paint' is our 'if clause'. Note that after the if clause we have a comma. 'You get orange paint' is the result.

using zero conditional

Punctuation

You can reverse the order of A (if clause) and B (the main clause) and say the result first, then state the condition. Note that in this order, you do not use a comma between the clauses. Check these examples out:

You burn your hand if you keep it above fire.

'You burn your hand' is the result and 'if you keep it above fire' is the if clause.

'If' Alternatives

Instead of 'if', you can also use 'when' or 'unless'. 'Unless' means 'if not'. See the examples:

We go to work tomorrow unless something unexpected happens.

Unless something unexpected happens, we go to work tomorrow. Remember, if unless clause be the first clause we should have a comma before the result clause.

'Unless' is used to talk about a situation that could happen or something that could be true, in the future. If you know that something has not happened or that something is not true, use 'if… not'.

When I don't clean my bedroom, my mom gets angry.

We can use 'when' instead of 'if'. It won't change the meaning of the sentence. We can use 'when' because the result always happens when the condition is true.

Zero Conditional in the Past

You can use zero conditionals in the past simple tense to talk about facts and situations that always happened in the past. It talks about facts and routines and habits that were always true in the past. For example:

If I were sick, my parents took me to the family doctor.

If we had friends over, we ate outside.

Review

'Zero conditional' is often used for something that is generally true and does not change, something that always happens if a condition is met, like a scientific fact. The condition always has the same result.

If Clauses

An if clause is the conditional clause that starts with 'if'. You have to use a comma (,) at the end of an 'if clause'.

If Alternatives

Instead of 'if', you can also use 'when' or 'unless'. 'Unless' means 'if not'.

Zero Conditional in the Past

You can use zero conditionals in the past simple tense to talk about facts and situations that always happened in the past.

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