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Probable, Improbable and Impossible conditions…

Read the conversations
Siddu: Hi! Nishi I heard the results are out.
Nishi: yah, after two days of tension at last we came to know them.

Siddu: May I ask. you how nay marks you got?
Nishi: Why not It is 67.8%
Siddu: What about Ravi?
Nishi: He got 57%.
Siddu: Nishi: That is true, if you suggest me some tips, I will get defenetly75% in the next semester.
While we converse we make statements basing on the possibility of the situation taking place. The structure of the sentence changes basing on the possibility of the event taking place, whether it is likely/unlikely/ impossible to take place.
Observe the structure of the sentence that is in bold.
  • If you suggest me some tips, I will get defenetly75% in the next semester. One makes such statement when one is confident that it will definitely take place.
  • If it rains today, we will cancel the picnic. ( may be it is about to rain/ it may likely to take place) It is a real condition and is possible to complete and likely to happen. It may happen ‘now’ or ‘always’.
    The ‘if clause’ need not be at the beginning of the sentence.
  • You should take permission, if you want to meet the principal.
  • You can leave the hall , if you finish writing the test.
This likely to happen condition is called a probable condition.

If you paint the box, it will look beautiful.
If clause+ simple present + present future.
Siddu: Have you seen the latest Benz car?
Nishi: yah! Its awesome.

Siddu: won’t you have the idea of owning it?
Nishi: If I had money, I would buy it.
It remains only as a dream.
What about you?
Siddu: It’s my dream too. Since last year I have been saving money.
If I have enough money, I will buy it.
Note the difference in the statements made by both Siddu and Nishi.

If I have enough money, I will buy it.
Siddu had started saving money for the purpose of buying a Benz car and he has a hope that he will buy one. As soon as he has enough money he will buy it. There is every possibility in Siddu’s condition and it is likely to take place.

If I had money, I would buy it.
Though Nishi has a dream to buy the same, he does n’t have money and buying one is improbable and unlikely to happen.
Study the following example
If I were the chairman of this group, I would give two months salary as bonus.
If I were a fish, I would swim in water.
The above is an imagined situation and there is no possibility of happening.
  • If I found money on the road, I would give it to you. ( I do not find money)
  • If he worked hard he would pass the exam. ( he does nt work hard and he has no possibility of passing the exam)
All the above sentences talk about conditions that will not take place.
They are all unreal and imagined conditions

If clause+ past tense, would+ infinitive ( main clause)
Siddhu ‘have you seen the run race in the Olympics
Ravi ‘yah! They are so interesting to watch.

Siddhu ‘our Indian had lost the first position in a fraction of second
Ravi ‘if he had practiced for some more days
he would have won the race.
Siddhu ‘I feel if government had encouraged
them the athletes would have had
better chances.
Observe the sentences that were in italics
‘If he had practiced for some more days he would have won the race.
In the above sentence the athelt did not have enough practice and so lost the first position. The condition explains about an incident that was already completed and nothing can be done at present. This is called impossible condition and it talks about something that took place in the past but unfulfilled.
  • If he had written the test well he would have passed. (he did not write and so did not pass)
  • If I had enough money I would have bought the Benz car ( I did not have money and I did not buy the car)
If + had + past participle, would have / should have / might have + past participle (main clause)
Probable condition Likely to happen Improbable condition Unlikely to happen Impossible condition Past condition
If you run fast, you will win the race If you ran fast, you would win the race If you had run fast, you would have won the race
If it rains, the farmers will be happy If it rained, the farmers would be happy If it had rained the farmers would have been happy
If you paint the wall, it looks beautiful. If you painted the wall, it would look beautiful. If you had painted the wall, it would have looked beautiful.
Ram will not be in trouble, if he pays the bill. Ram would not be in trouble, if he paid the bill. Ram would not have been in trouble, if he had paid the bill.
Modals also can be used in the main clause
  • If you do not eat well, you might get sick. Unless can also be used in place of if + not:
  • I cannot complete the work unless the teacher helps me.
  • Unless you plan well, you cannot manage the time. ( unless clause will not take a negative word since the word itself includes negative meaning.) Some times different conditions can be expressed even by omitting ‘if’
  • Had I been there I would have helped her..
  • Work hard, you will get first the first rank.
    • If + Simple present + Present future/ modal verb expresses probable condition.
    • If+ past+ past future/modal verbs expresses improbable condition.
    • If + past perfect+ Would have/ should have expresses impossible condition.
    If clause can be replaced by as long as, provided etc those who replace the meaning of ‘if’.

    Write a suitable conditional statement to the following situations. The first one has been done for you.
    1. I have a headache. I did not take the medicine.
    If I had taken the medicine, I would not have headache
    2. Know the address well. You will reach the place.
    3. I do not get up early. I do not reach the station.
    4. The teacher did not allow him. He did not attend the class.
    5. I want to become the president of the country and want to bring so many changes.
    6. I m preparing in a planned way. I will through my civils this year.
    7. Run water. It flows downwards.
    8. He does not read the news paper and does not know the current events.
    9. He wants to be a fish and swim in water.
    10. He did not pay the fee. He was not allowed to enter.

    Practice answers
    2. If you know the address well you will reach the place.
    3. If I got up early, I would reach the station.
    4. He would have attended the class, if the teacher had allowed him.
    5.If I were the president of the country ,I would bring many changes.
    6. If I prepare in a planned way, I will through my civils this year.
    7.If you run water, it will flow downwards.
    8. If he read the news paper, he would know the current events.
    9.If I were the fish, I would swim in water.
    10. If he had paid the fee , He would have been allowed to enter.
  • Published date : 30 Mar 2011 05:47PM

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