Consider the following sentence with a first conditional:

If it rains tomorrow, I will go to the cinema.

All the examples of first conditionals that I found use "will" instead of "would." Is it possible to replace "will" with "would" while retaining the same exact meaning, i.e.,

If it rains tomorrow, I would go to the cinema.

Or, would I have to put the inflected verb in preterite form (as mentioned in this related posting), like this:

If it rained tomorrow, I would go to the cinema.

[Edit 1: I clarified that I want to retain the same meaning among these examples.]

[Edit 2: Corrected silly mistake where the first example was the same as the second example.]


You have a mixed conditional, not a first conditional. Your sentence gives advice to another person, and is not a statement of you own personal purpose. If it rains, I will go tomorrow is a statement of what you would do given the condition of If it rains. If it rains, I would go tomorrow is advice given to another person as to their best actions given the condition If it rains. In spoken English it would be said as If it rains, I'd go tomorrow. If it rained, I would go tomorrow is a conditional that suggest that you will perform an action that you do not think is likely to happen.

  • Yes, I agree with Peter Shor: excellent answer. – user19148 Apr 26 '13 at 21:45

In the "would" case it means that my going tomorrow is psychologically remote. So the "would" part is loosely dependent on the first part. The hearer has to understand that even if it rains tomorrow, my going to cinema is not that certain.

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