0

I have some questions related to conditionals. Let's start with 0:

  • If I have drunk I don't drive

  • If I have drunk I'm not driving

1 conditional

  • If she comes I will be cooking something

  • If she comes I will cook something

2 conditional

  • If I won the lottery I would buy things

  • If I won the lottery I would be buying things

Obviously, I provided examples but my main quesiton is if there is any difference between this simple and continuous aspect in these 3 conditionals. If there is please explain

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  • EFL teachers and most textbooks use: zero conditional, first (1st).conditional and second (2nd) conditional. If someone searches "first conditional" your question won't turn up. 0 can represent "null", "nil", or "nought" as well as "zero". I've always seen and used "zero" the word not the digit..
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 13 at 5:58
  • You state here that If I say "If she comes I will be cooking something" is wrong unless we want to show that I'm already engaged before here coming. Although I heard that this example here is correct "If I you let her go you will be making a big mistake" or "You would be helping me a lot if you let her stay". Why here continuous is fine? –
    – Adam
    Mar 13 at 7:22
  • I will try to correct
    – Adam
    Mar 13 at 7:22
  • It is quite easy to find examples of these on the Internet and follow them. So: If I have drunk I don't drive. should be: If I drink, I don't drive. Please use periods for your sentences. Thanks.
    – Lambie
    Mar 13 at 14:23
  • The edit by @Laurel nearly covered everything but there's still a typo in quesiton, I think you can easily fix it yourself.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 14 at 8:00

2 Answers 2

1

Using the continuous in the second part of all of these implies that you would be, e.g., cooking at the time when she came, or buying things at the time you won the lottery. This is obviously not what you mean but introduces a cognitive strain to the listener. If you want to say that you would now be buying things because you won the lottery you would say "If I HAD won the lottery I would be buying things", "When she comes I will be cooking something".

As an aside "If I have drunk I don't drive" doesn't sound natural. "If I have been drinking I don't drive" is better. Drunk is an adjective meaning pissed / inebriated. If that's what you mean say "If I am drunk I don't drive". As you have written it that second meaning suggests itself, even if it probably gets rejected.

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  • Continuous forms mean here that I start doibg all these things before her intering ther or winning the lottery right?
    – Adam
    Mar 12 at 9:36
  • that's certainly implied, although from context the listener would probably get that you didn't mean that. Mar 12 at 9:51
  • 1
    Adam, please use a spellchecker or check your sentences before posting! Mar 12 at 10:17
  • @Kate Bunting. Sorry. I will try to check my writings.
    – Adam
    Mar 12 at 11:28
  • What about "If I have been drinking I'm not driving"? What is the difference in comparison to "If I have been drinking I don't drive"?
    – Adam
    Mar 12 at 11:30
0

One thing that complicates all of these is that present continuous can be used as an informal, colloquial replacement for future. "Come over to my house tonight; I'm cooking!" doesn't mean that you should come because I'm in the act of cooking right this second; it means "I will be cooking." In formal settings it would be better to use a future tense. But sometimes in casual speech, this present progressive is used this way.

This complicates things, because we hear "1st conditional often uses 'will + verb'!" But this conversational usage means that "If I drink, I'm not driving" can actually be not 0 but 1st conditional! Because it means "... I will not drive." (Note, I see that I'm actually disagreeing with @KateBunting; maybe they're focused on what's more advisable for formal usage.)

But the bottom line is don't worry about it. The whole "0, 1, 2 conditional" thing is not even a language rule, just a way of helping you understand them. And while the tense of the first verb matters for determining which conditional we have, the second verb is constrained only by what makes sense in the context.

5
  • You state here that If I say "If she comes I will be cooking something" is wrong unless we want to show that I'm already engaged before here coming. Although I heard that this example here is correct "If I you let her go you will be making a big mistake" or "You would be helping me a lot if you let her stay". Why here continuous is fine?
    – Adam
    Mar 13 at 16:20
  • @Adam I think maybe this comment was meant for someone else; I think that "If she comes I will be cooking something" is just fine. Also, I feel like reading my answer should explain this for you. If continuous is or isn't ok, it has nothing to do with conditionals, just with the situation you're discussing. Mar 13 at 17:08
  • So "if she comes I will be cooking" has two meanings either I will start after she came or before her coming, right? What about "If I won the lottery I would be buying things"
    – Adam
    Mar 13 at 17:27
  • @Adam The most important thing to notice is it's not formulaic. "If [simple future tense thing happens], I [future continuous—will be x-ing]" works for some sentences, but doesn't make sense for others. "If she comes I will be cooking," for me, makes sense only as "If she comes, I'm planning to cook," not as "she will find me in the act of cooking." Meanwhile, "I would be buying things" works only in certain regional or colloquial uses. There are some such where "I (x)" becomes "I'm (x)ing," as in the McDonald's motto "I'm loving it." In some, like Jamaican usage, it even becomes "I be (x)ing" Mar 13 at 17:45
  • @Adam But as a learner, don't worry much about these. If you're in a group that talks this way, you'll pick it up. In the meantime there's no harm in using something more standard, "If I won the lottery I would buy things." So if the question is "is the other way wrong," the answer is "No, people say it." But if the question is "Should I practice saying it that way," the answer is it's not the best idea for initial learning. Mar 13 at 17:47

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