What is Zero conditional?

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When talking to a native English speaker, you will encounter the Zero Conditional.  It’s used to speak of rules of games or science. But don’t panic, it’s easy to spot,  Zero Conditionals always have the words “if” or “when” in them. For example, “If it gets below zero, water freezes”. In this sentence, and in all conditional sentences, “if” means in the event that A happens, B will follow. By saying this, the speaker is expressing that  “below zero” = “freeze”

Most often, the Zero Conditional is used to speak factually, however, it may be used in a metaphorical context like in when it rains, it pours. This is not a factual sentence but uses the grammar of today’s lesson.

A Zero Conditional contains: If + present simple… present simple

Don’t worry, it’s not complicated to make a sentence with the Zero Conditional.  Let’s look at an example: 

If you try, you succeed.

This sentence contains the Conditional “if,” the Pronoun “you,” the present
simple Verb “try,” the Pronoun “you” again and the Verb “succeed.”

Placing “if” in a zero conditional sentence

“If” is a Conjunction. 

A Conjunction is used to connect clauses, fragments of sentences that may or may not contain a Subject, Verb, and Object. Understanding this, it’s NEVER correct to place “if” at the end of a sentence.

However, Zero Conditional sentences may place “if” in the center of the sentence. For example, “Play the piano notes better if you want to win the competition”.  To clarify, a Zero Conditional may be part of either the Subject or the Object, but the word “if” won’t be the final word of your sentence. 

Examples of zero conditional sentences

You get a tan if you spend too much time in the sun.

When it rains all night, the tank overflows. 

Let’s practice 

Q1: Try and make your own sentence.

Q2: What happens if you break the rules? 

Q3: What do you do when you’re sick? 

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