Is the first conditional used only for the future, or can it also be used for present tense? Could you please give some examples?

  • Yesterday i asked about mixture of 2nd and 3rd conditional not about first conditional. – Amir Dec 18 '13 at 4:27
  • Its ok Ma'am. I want to know that can i use first conditional for present tense? – Amir Dec 18 '13 at 4:40
  • Your question, and its restatement in your comment (I want to know that can i use first conditional for present tense?), is somewhat unclear since the so-called First Conditional contains a present tense in the if-clause. Do you mean: Can I use the First Conditional construction for consequences that are always true? Eg. If you heat a metal, it will expand. – Shoe Dec 18 '13 at 7:40
  • Should you need any help, I am here. – Kris Dec 18 '13 at 8:37
  • “It is clear that a division of conditionals into the zero, first, second, and third categories does not adequately reflect actual usage.” —from “If only it were true: the problem with the four conditionals”, Christian Jones and Daniel Waller, ELT Journal 65:1 pp 24–32 (2011), Oxford University Press, doi: 10.1093/elt/ccp101. – tchrist Jan 24 '15 at 14:35

The first conditional is called the predictive conditional. As such, it predicts the future.

If I feel well, I will sing.
If I have enough money, I will go to Japan.
If Tara is free tomorrow, we will invite her.

We use the first conditional to talk about future events that are likely to happen.

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    So, how can you tell that it's the first conditional? That looks like the present tense to me. – John Lawler Dec 18 '13 at 5:29
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    I'm implying that the term "first conditional" is not meaningful in the context of English grammar. It doesn't designate any particular structure or phenomenon that can be identified exactly. It appears to be a term derived from an old grammar book. And, by the way, there's no "future tense" in English; will is just a modal auxiliary verb. – John Lawler Dec 18 '13 at 14:33
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    There's enough BS published about English grammar to keep everyone occupied debunking it from now till doomsday. Better to ignore it, and those who can't cope without it are more to be pitied than censured. – John Lawler Dec 18 '13 at 14:59
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    It is common in pedagogic grammars to introduce the conditional by focusing on three basic sentence structures. The term First Conditional (or Type 1 conditional) does indeed designate a particular construction. It is the one referred to in @BarrieEngland's answer. The problem occurs if learners are not made aware early on that the three types are not the only way to construct sentences containing if-clauses. – Shoe Dec 18 '13 at 16:14
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    cont, As Swan says in Practical English Usage (p256) : [The first, second and third conditionals] are useful structures to practise. However, students sometimes think that these are the only possibilities and become confused when they meet [other combinations]. Hence the numerous questions about the conditional on this site. – Shoe Dec 18 '13 at 16:16

Sentences in which the verb in the if-clause is in the present tense, and in which the main clause includes will + the plain form of the main verb are indeed sometimes known to learners of English as the First Conditional. An example is ‘If you run, you will catch the train.’ Such sentences predict a likely result in the future if the condition is fulfilled. They can also occur as negative sentences, such as ‘If you don’t run, you won’t catch the train.’

It is still not clear to me exactly what you are asking, but your comment on Susan’s reply suggests you may misunderstand what a tense is. A tense is a form of the verb that often gives some indication of when the event being described took place. Your example was ‘If you get up I will give you breakfast now’. That remains a First Conditional sentence, because the verb in the if-clause is in the present tense, and the main clause is on the pattern will + plain form of the main verb. Perhaps it is the presence of now that is causing your confusion. It may help if you try not to regard will as being part of a future tense. English has no future tense. The modal verb will can perform a number of roles. One of them, as here, is to make a prediction.

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  • Thank you sir @Barrie England. So i can say that first conditional can be used for both present and future tense. – Amir Dec 18 '13 at 10:06
  • NOOOO! English has no future tense. – Barrie England Dec 18 '13 at 10:56
  • Sir, then what are the tenses we use first conditional for? – Amir Dec 18 '13 at 11:13
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    As I said in my answer, the First Conditional predicts a likely result in the future if the condition is fulfilled, and the construction used is if + present tense, followed by will + plain form of the main verb. – Barrie England Dec 18 '13 at 12:21

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