An Overview of Fine Tune Your English Chapter 5- If All the Trees were Bread and Cheese"(Conditional Clause)

Chapter 5
“If all the trees were bread and cheese…” ( Conditional)

Let us begin with an analogy from GK chesterton:" If all the trees were bread and cheese there would be considerable deforestation... where I live”
you might be wondering what exactly does this chapter deals with..!! the deal is  simple. the whole chapter is about the use and relevance of  conditional clauses.
Now what is conditional ?what are the uses of conditionals ?what are the different types of conditional clause?
when you speak of conditional , obviously,the first word that comes to your mind is “ if “. In almost all conditional sentences,the condition is introduced by “if”. ( but there are other ways also!)
What is a conditional clause?
A conditional clause states the dependence of one circumstance on another;  it has two parts (a) the “if clause” and (b) the main clause
It is  in the if clause   we proposes the condition and  it is in the main clause that the result or probable result is presented .

There are different types of conditionals

Zero conditional
It  is often used to refer to general truths. The tense in both parts  is  simple present tense

If + simple present (if clause) => simple present [main clause]
if this  happens =>this is the result.
example: if it rains our clothes get wet.
if you heat sugar it melts.

Type one conditional /Real condition
it is used to refer to the present or future where the situation is real ;it refers to a possible condition and its probable result. Here the  if clause is in the simple present and the main clause is in simple future
If + simple present => simple future.
If this  happens => that  will happen .
if you hurry ,you will miss the fun.
if it rains today, your clothes will get wet.

Type 2 condition or Unreal conditional .
this conditional is used to refer to a situation that is Unreal and the time can be current or anytime .These sentences  are not fact oriented. A hypothetical condition ( a supposition) is presented in the “if clause” and its probable result ( it is only probable and not sure) is presented in the main clause. if Clause is in simple past and the main class is in present continuous conditional or present conditional
if + simple past => present continuous conditional .
if this happens =>that would happen.( but the speaker is not sure whether that would happen or that would be happening)
example : if I spoke German I would be working in Germany( not sure whether i would be working in Germany)

Most of us  believe that the expression” If” is the only one to present  a condition ; but a condition can be expressed in many other ways too. Let us have a look at other conditional phrases. These  include :”supposing”,” provided that”,” one more “,”but for”,” should “,”so long as”” as long as”” unless”(negative condition) 

Note: while a conditional clause shows the dependence of onething on another , a concession clause shows a contrast between two circumstances .

More Examples from Text.

Now Let us undermine the words of George Bernard Shaw:” if a man stays long enough something of this kind will happen” shaw here refers to his own death ,which is imminent .the" If clause " in the sentence uses the simple present tense and the main clause uses the simple future tense .this condition is an example of real condition or Type 1 condition. why is it called reall condition? it is called real condition because there is equal possibility for the fulfillment or non fulfillment of the condition. the proposition in the main Clause is also possible in the sense that it is something that can be achieved ,subject to the fulfillment of a condition. Real condition can also be expressed in past tense .
example:  if he was asleep he certainly heard us.

Now let us  compare Shaw’s sentence with the following Goldwynism:” if I could drop dead right now I would be the happiest man alive “.Goldwynism is an illogical or ungrammatical sentence named after Samuel Goldwyn who excelled in creative offences against grammar. and here this sentence  is using simple past in the conditional clause and would in the main clause.”would” refers to future in the past. this is an example of Unreal condition since it is made clear that the condition will not be fulfilled.
The  if  clause in “if you stop smoking your health would improve “, clearly indicates that there's no possibility of smoking being stopped and therefore there is no possibility of health getting improved .
Now consider this sentence :”had we never met never loved each other we would not have been broken hearted “ ; here the condition is not only unreal but also impossible.

Negative condition.
Unless is the most common expression that is used to present a negative condition.

ex:  unless the lord builds the house the workers work in  vain .Unless suggest that there is no other way something can happen. it is actually the negative form of “provided that” rather than of “if”.” provided that “means” if and only if”

A Test for You.
Identify the conditionals used here.
(a)If you pass the test we will promote you.
(b) if you do not pass the test we will not promote you .
(c)we will promote you provided you pass the test .
(d)unless you pass the test we will not promote you .
Here “unless and provided that” have a more exclusive meaning
Other expressions used to introduce conditional clauses.
in case
we use in case to talk about precautions and not of conditions. it refers to something we do in advance to get ready if there is a problem later. example :”I took inoculation in case an epidemic should break out”. Here usually the action in the if clause precedes the action in the main clause.
I insured my car in case there is an accident. however the use of in case has a meaning that is roughly same that of If
“ in case of a fire inform the Fireman”.

Joseph, Mathew. Fine Tune Your English. Orient Blackswan . pvt. Ltd. 2010. Print.


  1. He will withdraw the case provided you pay compensation (Rewrite using unless)

    1. Unless you pay compensation he will not withdrew the case

  2. He will not withdraw the case unless you pay compensation.

  3. Give an example for infinitive phrase expressing condition


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