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Conditional Clauses | Definition,Types, Examples & Complex Sentence

Content: Definition,Types and Examples

A conditional sentence has at least two clauses, one beginning with if (or ‘unless’ which means ‘if …. Not’)


If inflation is high, the value of life insurance policies goes down.

Explanation: The ‘if clause’ is the subordinate clause while the result clause is the main clause. The arrangement of the sentence can be altered by positioning the result clause before the if clause e.gThe value of life insurance policies go down if inflation is high.



  1. Likely or probable conditionals

Sentences in this category fall into two forms:

  1. the if clause and the result may be in the present simple tense

e.g If you have a life insurance policy, your family has financial protection.

  1. Present simple tense in the if-clause, future tense in the result clause e.g with your policy, the insurance company will pay up, even if you drive into a tree.


  1. Unlikely or Remote conditional

Past tense (also called the subjunctive) is used in the if-clause, “would” in the result clause.

e.g if you left the keys in the car and if it were stolen, the insurance company would  probably not pay you.


  1. Unfulfilled or impossible conditional.

It is used for talking about what did not happen. The past perfect tense is in the if-clause “would have” and a past participle is in the result clause e.g If I had left the keys in the car, the insurance company would not have paid up.



Identify the following as likely, unlikely or unfulfilled conditions

  1. If you steal, you may be jailed
  2. I would have left if you had arrived earlier.
  3. If you stole, you would be jailed


(2) Complex Sentence

This is a type of sentence structure which consists of one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses, hence it is denoted by (M1, S1 or more ). When writing this type of sentence, any of the clauses could come first, but it is advisable to write the dependent clause first before the main clause so as to achieve sentence vigour. All conditional clauses are complex sentences.



  • If I were your father, I would punish you.

Sub. Cl.           M. cl.

  • Whenever it rains, I don’t go to work.

Sub. Cl.                  M. cl.

  • Since I came to this school, I have never been punishedbecause I always obey the rules

Sub. Cl.                                   M. cl.                                       Sub. Cl.

  • I will call youwhen I’m less busy.
  1. cl. Sub. Cl.
  • The book which you gave mehas been stolen

Sub. Cl.        



Write down ten complex sentences using different clauses markers and underlined the subordinate clauses.


See also


Making Sentences with Past Tense

Introduction to Diphthongs

Literature | Drama Text Zunju & Uchenna by Pierce Meunier

Vocabulary Development | Prefixes

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