First Conditional & about the Future
Episode #6 of the course English grammar by Kasia Sielicka, PhD
Okay, so here’s the thing.
I’ve spent an amazing day with Susan. And I know she is the love of my life.
But she doesn’t know that.
Does she feel the same way about me?
What if she doesn’t?
Should I ask her? Or should I be quiet?
What if I tell her I love her, and she says she doesn’t love me?
If that happens, I will . . . well, I will cry for the rest of my life.
And if she doesn’t say anything? That will be even worse!
Come on, John, be a man and ask her to marry you!
Yes, yes, yes! I’ll ask her to marry me! What a great idea!
I’m going to do it next week . . . or maybe tomorrow . . . Heck, why wait, I’m going to do it today!
So, that’s the plan: tonight, I’m asking Susan to marry me! Hooray!
If she says she doesn’t love me, I will cry for the rest of my life.
If she doesn’t say anything? That will be even worse.
These sentences are examples of the First Conditional. We use it to talk about something that might happen in the future and its consequences. In the “if” part, we have Present tenses, even though we are talking about the future (yes, it’s tricky!). In the second part, we usually have “will,” so no surprises here. More examples:
If it rains tomorrow, we’ll stay at home.
If you don’t learn, you’ll fail the test next week.
Talking about the Future
There are many ways to talk about the future. What’s funny is that English doesn’t really have future tenses! Let’s look at three ways here. They differ in the degree of planning involved.
Yes, yes, yes! I’ll ask her to marry me!
Here, we have “will” and we use it for instant decisions: decisions we make right now, without planning first. More examples:
Look, it’s raining! I’ll take an umbrella.
You don’t have money? I’ll lend you some!
b. Be going to
I’m going to do it today.
“Be going to” is used to talk about intentions. John has already decided to propose to Susan. More examples:
We are going to paint the house next week.
Are you going to ask for a promotion?
c. Present Continuous
Tonight, I’m asking Susan to marry me! Hooray!
We use Present Continuous to talk about arrangements: plans that are very specific. Here, John has planned exactly when he is proposing to Susan. We often use these when we have made an arrangement with other people and put it into our calendar. More examples:
I can’t meet you tomorrow—I’m seeing my dentist at 5.
I’m flying to London on Saturday.
Tomorrow, you will see how the plan (to propose to Susan) is implemented! Yippee!
Advanced Grammar in Use with Answers: A Self-Study Reference and Practice Book for Advanced Learners of English by Martin Hewings
Share with friends