In the past four High English quizzes we saw how conditionals play an important role in communication. We found that there are different types of conditionals such as probable, hypothetical, impossible and also zero conditionals. Each type of conditional sentence has a definite form following a particular tense form. The general principle guiding these types of sentence is the presence of a main clause and a subordinate clause almost always containing the ‘if’ word. We now look at another type of conditional sentence without the ‘if’ word in its subordinate clause.
In conditional sentences without the word 'if' we use words such as ‘as long as,’ ‘unless,’ ‘providing,’ ‘provided that,’ ‘should,’ ‘or’ and ‘otherwise.’ Generally, these sentences are formed on similar lines to other conditional sentences. In the case of ‘unless’ if the verb is in present simple in the ‘unless’ clause we use 'might', 'shall', 'may', 'should', 'can', 'will', 'could' and 'would' in the main clause. For instance:
‘Unless you pay attention, you will never learn calculus.’
We can use ‘unless’ in the present, past and past perfect tenses and there is always a condition attached to the use of the word. ‘Should’ is another word that can be used in place of ‘if’’ and typically we use this word in formal situations. When we need to impose conditions that are specific or limits that are predetermined we use ‘as long as’ or ‘provided that.’ Many times we use ‘or’ and ‘otherwise’ with conditional meanings. For instance:
‘You have got to commence operations, or the enemy will attack us.’
‘We’d better hurry, otherwise the movie will start without us.’
'The staff can do whatever they like provided that it is outside office hours.’
‘You can use my computer as long as you don’t spoil it.’
The above examples are sentences showing the use of ‘or,’ ‘otherwise,’ ‘provided that’ and ‘as long as.’ Thanks to conditional sentences the English language is rich with innovation and the quiz that follows exposes you to conditional sentences without the word 'if' in their subordinate clause.