If only it were true: the problem with the four conditionals

Jones, Christian and Waller, Daniel orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9073-9460 (2010) If only it were true: the problem with the four conditionals. ELT Journal, 65 (1). pp. 24-32. ISSN 0951-0893

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/elt/ccp101


The traditional division of conditionals into four main types (zero, first, second, and third) has long been called into question. Unfortunately, the awareness that this description does not reflect conditional patterns in actual usage has not generally been reflected in EFL coursebooks. This article re-examines the arguments for a description of conditional patterns which reflects actual usage and uses corpus data to demonstrate the kind of patterns in frequent use. It then suggests two teaching approaches that may help teachers to tackle a variety of conditional patterns in the classroom.

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