We use the so-called zero conditional when the result of the condition is always true.

What about following situation. Let's say that we have a poorly written application. :) and I complain that it simply does not work. It is always true for this version of application. Zero conditional sounds good to me. Is it wrong to use first conditional here?

  • "if I press a button it crashes."
  • "if I press a button it will crash."



The zero, or present, conditional, using the present tense in both clauses, means, in the words of ‘An A-Z of English Grammar’ by Leech and others, that ‘the condition can be true at any time’. In the case of the example, whenever I press a button, assuming I do, it crashes. In practice, it suggests that the speaker has indeed pressed a button on at least one occasion.

In the first conditional, the main clause envisages the likely result if the condition is fulfilled. In the example, I may or may not press a button, but pressing the button will certainly result in a crash. There is no indication in the sentence that the speaker has yet pressed a button.

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