I came across two questions concerning conditionals in a coursebook. It goes like this,

Question 1:

Most people (buy/will buy) state-of-the-art products if they (have/will have) the money.

The right answer is using the first conditional structure i.e. will buy and have.

My question is why not buy and have instead! Couldn't it be a general truth? How should I pick between these two? Is there a quick trick to help us choose the correct answer?

Question 2:

There is an incomplete sentence in which the students are instructed to finish it using a result clause:

If people are not careful when they choose new products, ...

My question is if I could use both zero and first conditional structures in here and both would be correct

If people are not careful when they choose new products, they regret/will regret it.

  • For Q1, is there any context to indicate a general present action vs. a future one? – user3169 Aug 26 '17 at 19:05
  • @user3169 Unfortunately not! After the presenting the related grammar in a box, the author put some questions right after, and the sentence above is one of those! The instruction clearly says, 'Choose the correct form.' I kind of got confused why this must be the answer! It made me seek a native speaker's opinion on that. – Yuri Aug 26 '17 at 19:54
  • I suppose they are right since "buying" is not a certainty with an 'if' conditional. Maybe you are thinking of "Most people buy state-of-the-art products when they have the money." – user3169 Aug 26 '17 at 20:03
  • @user3169 I don't really understand when it's the matter of certainty and when it's not. Are there some certain verbs like buy that cannot be used in zero conditional form with 'if'? I'm afraid it's even more confusing now :-( – Yuri Aug 26 '17 at 20:26
  • @Yuri It's not a question of verbs. Present/Present is used to indicate immediacy or when "if" can be replaced with "whenever" or "every time". In the absence of any context, Present/Present would be fine with Q1 (and so is Present/Future). Present/Future is used to indicate that the result will take place some time after the condition, or if you want to describe a typical behaviour, as I think may be the case here: If they have the money, they will do that. In the case of Q2, the verb "regret" needs to be in the future because you generally regret something you've already done. – Gustavson Aug 27 '17 at 0:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.