On grammar.ccc Rob De Decker, who (as it is written there) teaches English at a Flemish grammar school in Belgium, explains the so-called first, second and third conditional.
Instant English, a best-seller, by John Peter Sloan, has a lot of pages on these grammatical constructs, which are called, again, first, second and third conditional.
Nevertheless, some EL&U competent users, like Barrie England and tchrist, more and more times repeated that the rules established with these definitions are nonsense in English grammar.
Among others, tchrist's comment below appears to be notable; what expressed is not different from Barrie England's thought.
This whole “1st/2nd/etc conditional” thing is purely an ESL meme that is never taught to native English speakers in the course of their regular grammar-school education, and which furthermore makes very little sense when subjected to rigorous analysis. I think it just confuses people to no useful end.
Obviously I don't doubt that what tchrist claims is true, albeit those definitions are useful for ESL learners.
How do English native speakers render those patterns according to British or U.S. English grammar courses?
For example, what are the real grammar rules under the following sentences, which are called first, second and third conditional by international English learners?
- First conditional: If I have enough money, I will go to Japan.
- Second conditional:If I had enough money, I would go to Japan.
- Third conditional: If I had had enough money, I would have gone to Japan.