Real and unreal conditionals, Modals and position of if-clauses

1. Structure of if-clauses

If-clauses can be clause-initial (1.), clause-medial (2.) as well as clause-final (3.).

  1. If you like, we can catch a movie.
  2. We, if you like, can catch a movie.
  3. We can catch a movie if you like.

2. Types

Aside from the typical type I, II, III strucure, conditionals can be divided into two categories:
real and unreal conditionals.

2.1. Real condition

Conditional sentence type
If I have money, I spend it. Present Real Conditional – type I
If I had money, I spent it. Past Real Conditional – type I
If I have money, I will/am going to spend it. Future Real Conditional – type I

2.2. Unreal condition

Conditional sentence Explanation type
If I had had money, I would have spent it.   Past unreal Conditional – type III
If I had money, I would spend it. I think about spending the money TODAY. Present unreal Conditional – type II
If I had money, I would spend it. I think about spending the money NEXT WEEK. Future unreal Conditional – type II

3. Modal verbs

Main clauses with real conditional tenses can have modal verbs.

  • If I have money, I can spend it.

You can use could and might instead of would in unreal conditional clauses.

  • If I had money, I could spend it. → (I would be able to spend it.)
  • If I had money, I might spend it. → (I would possibly spend it.)