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At times I find it difficult to decide whether to use a zero conditional sentence or a first conditional. Would you mind helping me with the following example:

If they want to get there fast, they ....... (take/will take) the express train.

Thanks!

  • 1
    I think this question might be more appropriate for ELL.SE. Categorizing conditional sentences like this is specific to learning English as a non-native speaker. – Kit Z. Fox Jul 26 '13 at 12:48
5

It depends on whether you are talking about an habitual event or predicting a future event.

If they want to get there fast, they take the express train.

In this case, taking the express is an habitual consequence of needing to get there fast. If can be replaced by whenever.

On the other hand, if you are speculating on how they will get somewhere in the future, then you say:

If they want to get there fast, they will take the express train.

In this case, if cannot be replaced by whenever, and will cannot be omitted.

-1

I guess you have to use would here.

If they want to get there fast, they would take the express train.

  • Your answer is incorrect unless you use a past tense in the if clause: If they wanted to get there fast, they would take the express train. – Rain Lover Jul 26 '13 at 9:09

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