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.).
- If you like, we can catch a movie.
- We, if you like, can catch a movie.
- We can catch a movie if you like.
Aside from the typical type I, II, III strucure, conditionals can be divided into two categories:
real and unreal conditionals.
2.1. Real condition
|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
|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.)