Conditional Mood‏‎ in English Grammar

Sentence Structure

Daring skier jumping over a car park.

A true daredevil.

The Conditional Mood is the form of the verb used in conditional sentences to refer to a hypothetical situation or an uncertain event that is dependent on another set of circumstances.

In other words, the conditional mood talks about something which might happen if something else does!

When we talk about a conditional situation, we must be able to tell the difference between what is real and what is possible.

In English, then, there are three types of conditional sentences:


When he has a competition, I can’t watch.

It’s true; it is a fact! Every time he is in a competition I’m so nervous I find it impossible to watch him jump.


If he reaches the finals, I won’t be able to watch.

I’m predicting what will happen. From past experience I know this it is going to happen.


If I were to go to the next Olympics, I wouldn’t be able to watch him.

This is more contemplative. I’m wondering about the future and the consequences of what might happen. It’s very uncertain if he’ll make the Olympic team and if he does I’m not sure at all if I could watch him compete.

Meanwhile, the conditional mood can be expressed using several verb forms:


I would watch.

Progressive (aka continuous)

I would be watching.

Perfect Simple

I would have watched.

Perfect Progressive (aka continuous)

I would have been watching.

Useful Links

Conditionals in English Grammar – a general introduction to conditionals.

Conditional Clauses in English Grammar – more about building conditionals.

First Conditional or Second Conditional‏‎ – often confusing for students; which one to use?

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