• If you asked, I would follow.
  • If you ask, I will follow.

The first one is hypothetical, and suggests that something is likely to happen if the condition is met.

Truly to say, it seems to me that the two examples stated above have same meanings. But I'm in doubt.

Please say what actually is.

  • 2
    The second is more likely to happen, from the standpoint of the speaker. In the first sentence, the speaker doubts the likelihood of "asking". – CowperKettle Dec 30 '15 at 18:18
  • 4
    For all practical purposes there is little difference in meaning between the two sentences. It is true that the first one talks about a hypothetical situation, but on the other hand, one cannot predict the future. So they mean about the same. Another example: If it rained tommorow I would go and If it rains tomorrow I will go. – GoDucks Dec 30 '15 at 18:23

These constructions are what is known to be conditionals.
When you want to predict the result of a future action, you invoke the first conditional. (Your second sentence.)

Note that the modals may, might and could can be used instead of will in the result clause, so your sentence can also be written as If you ask, I may/might/could follow.
On a decreasing percentage, the predictions are shown as follows:

  willwill probablycould, may, might
100%          90%                       70%                       
may/might notprobably won'twon't
              40%                     10%               0%

The second conditional (first sentence) is used to talk about situations that are unlikely or unreal. It can refer to the present or the future, so the sentence If you asked, I'd follow, refers to an unreal situation in the present.


The second sentence:

If + the present simple tense, the future simple tense

is the first conditional. We use it to talk about a likely or probable situation in the future, i.e. If I get this job, I'll have a party to celebrate it. I may get the job, I may not, I don't know, but it's possible- I applied and I have a chance to get it.

The first sentence:

If + the past simple tense, would + a verb

is the second conditional. We use it to talk about a unlikely or unreal situation in the future or alternative or unreal situation in the present, i.e. If I won the lottery, I'd buy a mansion. The odds are that I won't win (unlikely future). Or If I were working now, I'd be tired. I'm not working now - I'm relaxed (unreal or alternative present).

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