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?

The zero conditional is a grammatical structure frequently used to express a fact or situation that is always true and does not change, regardless of the specific context or situation. It can be used to describe scientific principles, natural phenomena, or everyday experiences.

Zero Conditional: Structure

The basic structure of a zero type conditional is as follows:

'If A, B'
or,
'If + condition, result'

A and B are normally in the present simple tense. The present simple tense is used to describe facts. However, the result can also be in imperative mood. Here are some examples:

If you heat water, it boils.

This is an example of zero conditionals. The condition always leads to 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 a type of conditional clause that begins with the word 'if'. It is typically positioned at the beginning of a sentence, and a comma (,) should be used to separate it from the main clause, also known as the result clause. For example:

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

Here, 'if you mix red paint and yellow paint' is the 'if clause'. Note that there is a comma after the if clause. 'You get orange paint' is the result clause.

If you heat water to 100 degrees Celsius, it boils.

using zero conditional

Punctuation

It is possible to reverse the order of the conditional sentence and state the result (the main clause) before the condition (the if-clause). It's important to note that in this order, no comma is used to separate the clauses. Pay attention to the example:

You burn your hand if you keep it close to fire.

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

'If' Alternatives

In addition to using 'if' to introduce a conditional sentence, you can also use 'when' or 'unless'. 'Unless' is the opposite of 'if', and has the same meaning as 'if...not'. See the examples:

We go to work tomorrow unless something unexpected happens.

Or 'unless something unexpected happens, we go to work tomorrow'.

The garden party is on unless it rains.

'Unless' is used to express a condition that must be met for a particular situation to happen or for something to be true in the future. On the other hand, 'if...not' is used when discussing a situation that has not occurred or when something is known to be untrue in the present or the past. For example:

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.

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. This structure is used to talk about facts, 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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