All the conditionals


  1. Use these hints to complete the conditionals about Bob from the video.
  1. If Bob ________ for 20 years, he _________ be free.
  2. If Bob ________ in prison, he ________ rob more banks.
  3. If Bob ____________ to become rich, he ____________ robbed banks.
  4. If you __________ banks, you ________ to prison.

mix (1/2). If Bob ______ to escape, I ___________ not be surprised.

mix (2/3). If Bob ___________ love robbing banks, he ______________ gone to prison.

mix (3/2). If Bob _____________ robbed banks he ___________ not be in prison now.


1. If Bob waits for 20 years, he will be free.

2. If Bob wasn’t in prison, he would rob more banks.

3. If Bob hadn’t wanted to become rich, he wouldn’t have robbed banks.

0. If you rob banks, you to prison.

mix (1/2). If Bob tries to escape, I wouldn’t be surprised.

mix (2/3). If Bob didn’t love robbing banks, he wouldn’t have gone to prison.

mix (3/2). If Bob hadn’t robbed banks he wouldn’t be in prison now.

  1. Complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first using the word given. E.g.

When water is heated to 100 degrees then it boils.


If water is heated to 100 degrees it boils.

  1. When John is at lunch I answer his calls.


If _______________, I answer his calls.

  1. I need to ask my boss, please wait a second.


If you wait a second, I __________ boss.

  1. I watch television series to improve my English.


If I ______________ series, I wouldn’t be as good at English.

  1. They’re not playing football because the weather is awful.


If the weather wasn’t awful, they ___________.

  1. I left my phone so I can’t contact john.


If I ________________ phone, I would be able to contact John.

  1. We’re lost because you forgot to bring the map!


If you _______________ the map, we wouldn’t be lost!


  1. John is at lunch           2. will ask my      3. didn’t watch television   4. would play/ be playing football        5. hadn’t left my phone     6. hadn’t forgot/ forgotten to bring
Exam tips

Speaking exams

As an examiner I know that the use of conditionals are a great indication of a student’s ability. As soon as a student begins a sentence with ‘if’ I immediately pay attention to see if the student can use conditionals correctly. In IELTS exams conditionals are considered ‘complex sentences’ and so just by attempting to use conditionals- even if you don’t get the form exactly right- you can get higher marks.

So… take the time to learn the form and use conditionals in your speaking exams.

Impress your examiner by:

  • Using the first/ second/ third or zero conditional.

Blow your examiners mind by:

  • Using mixed conditionals.
  • Using mixed conditionals with other modal verbs.
  • Using other words instead of ‘if’ such as ‘unless’ or ‘whether’ in conditional sentences.



  • Telling stories (If I hadn’t decided to study medicine I wouldn’t have to get a 7 in my IELTS speaking).
  • Talking about the future. (If I get a 7 in the IELTS speaking exam then I’ll be going to Cambridge to study medicine).
  • Expressing your opinion on certain matters (part 3- discussion). If people spent less time on computers then they would be healthier.

Remember: Use weak form auxiliary verbs when speaking.

For example. Would have /wʊdəv/


Conditional structures appear regularly in sentence transformations, like this one:

John didn’t bring the map so he’s lost. See the exercises section of this video for more examples.

John left the map at home, that might be why we are lost now.


If John ___________________ the map, he might not be lost now.

Teaching ideas.

Warning: teaching all the conditionals at the same time can be overwhelming for students as well as putting a lot of pressure on the teacher. I would only recommend teaching all the conditionals to students who have already been exposed to all the conditionals and simply need reminding (e.g. advanced, C1 students).

All conditionals

3 happy moments.

  • Tell your students about 3 happy moments in your life (e.g. getting married, moving country, etc.). Students can ask you questions about them.
  • Students to think of 3 happy moments in their life.
  • In groups they can talk about these events.
  • Write sentences about one of your happy moments in conditional sentences. (e.g.

1st: If I keep teaching English in Spain, I will go crazy.

2nd: If I didn’t live in Spain, I would live in Japan.

3rd: If I hadn’t moved to Spain I wouldn’t have learned Spanish.

Mixed: If I hadn’t moved to Spain, I wouldn’t be here teaching you English.

  • Highlight the form of the sentences and have student create similar sentences.
  • Students change groups and tell each other their sentences and discuss the events.
  • Finally: as a group see if you can come up with a rule about happiness using the 0 conditional. (e.g. You can increase happiness if you take steps to change your life).

Also, please share your favourite activities for teaching conditionals in the comment box below.





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