Test your knowledge: If-Clauses

‘If’ clauses are important in business communication as they state how things have to be executed under certain conditions. You will need ‘if’ clauses in every negotiating and project meeting. So let’s take a closer look at what you can remember.

There are three basic types of conditional sentences. And they all deal with possibilities.

1. Open – or first – condition

It is possible or likely to fulfill the condition but it is not important whether or not it is fulfilled:

  • If you go, I’ll join you.

2. Improbable – or second – condition

It is unlikely or improbable that the situation will happen:

  • If I had a car, I would take you to the airport.

3. Impossible – or third – condition

This condition cannot be achieved as the act is in the past:

  • I would have stayed at the office if you had come.

A fourth type is mentioned sometimes, the zero condition ‘if’ clause. It refers to a general truth, as in this sentence:

  • If you drop your file, it falls to the floor.

This type is the only ‘if ’ clause where both parts of the sentence are concurrent.

Exercise: If-clauses

Now it is your turn. Complete the following sentences and fill in which type of conditional clause it is.

  1. If I had more time, I (finish) ……………….. the letter.
    Type …………. 
  2. If your boss (know) …………. where you hide your chocolate in your desk, she would have ended her diet last night.
    Type ………………..
  3. What will happen, if he (lose) ………….. the job?
    Type ……………..
  4. If he had taken the train, he (not, be) ……………. too late.
    Type ………..
  5. If it had (rain) ………., I would have stayed at the office.
    Type ……………..

Answer key

Only in cases where you wish to express an active willingness or a strong recommendation will “would” or “will” appear in the ifclause: “If I were you, I’d finish that letter right now!” In all other cases it stands in the main clause.

Did you find the exercise easy? Good for you! And if you found it difficult, just try again and look up some other exercises in our download section. 


Vocabulary Box


affirmative –   bestätigend
barely kaum
CEO – Chief Executive Geschäftsführer
Officer formal obligation Verpflichtungserklärung
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