Understanding Grammar - Conditionals
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Jack and Rich host their third World Cup podcast. In this podcast, they are going to do two roleplays. One before England's match against Panama and one after the match. The language focus is on the language we use to speculate with a specific emphasis on conditional forms. What language do we use to speculate about the future and what language do we use to speculate about the past? Your task is to write about the action at the World Cup and write some conditional sentences about the past and the future. As always, we also have a new football phrase for you to guess and news about our World Cup competition and World Cup programme. Enjoy!
This podcast was recorded on the 20th of June.
Rich: 2-1 eh? but it was a tough match to watch.
Jack: I know. If Kane hadn’t got that last minute goal, I’d have been gutted.
Rich: Yeah, we deserved the win, but you can never be certain and there have been some strange results in the cup so far.
Jack: What do you think about Southgate’s performance as England manager?
Rich: I think he’s doing OK. I’d have brought Vardy on though.
Jack: Yeah - towards the end of the match, Tunisia were playing with a back 10.
Rich: If Vardy had been on the pitch, I reckon he’d have got through their defence.
Rich: We were making chances, but not taking enough shots.
Jack: So Panama on Sunday. Are you feeling confident?
Rich: You’d think so.
Jack: If we play like we did against Tunisia, we’ll have no problems.
Rich: Don’t count your chickens! There are no sure things at the World Cup.
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich
Jack: and I’m Jack
Rich: and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Jack: What’s happening this week, Rich?
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we have the third of four World Cup podcasts.
Jack: That’s right. Throughout the World Cup, all of our podcasts are about the World Cup and are part of the World Cup Community Programme which you can find on Premier Skills English in the live section.
Rich: The World Cup Community Programme is a 4-week programme of lessons and discussions about football and English. There are 4 main lessons each week and if you complete it all and pass the final test, you can download a certificate.
Jack: This is week 3 so you probably already know about it, but if you don’t. You can still join in and catch up. In this podcast, we’re looking at grammar. We’re looking at some special forms we use to speculate.
Rich: Speculate? That’s a bit tricky.
Jack: Yes - it’s similar to guessing. We do it a lot when we talk about football. Before the match, we speculate or try to guess what the result will be, who’s going to score a goal, who’s going to play well, that sort of thing. In the introduction to the podcast I said: If we play like we did against Tunisia, we’ll have no problems.
Rich: And after the match, too. Especially if our team loses. We speculate about what could have been different; what we wish had happened differently.
Jack: It’s not the same as guessing because after the match we’re trying to imagine a different result. I think we should get on and give you some examples.
Rich: Yes - this language will be familiar to all football fans. We’re going to do two roleplays. The first will be before the match and the second will be after the match. After the roleplays, we’ll look at the language we use and then at the end, there will be a task for you to complete in the comments section.
Jack: And at the end of the podcast, there’s another football phrase for you to guess connected to the World Cup of course. Let’s get on with the first roleplay.
Rich: I see you’re wearing your lucky scarf.
Jack: I’m not normally very superstitious, but you can never have too much luck. If I don’t wear it and England lose, I’ll feel awful.
Rich: Yes - it will be all your fault.
Jack: Ha ha - yes. I know it’s silly. But it’s all part of the fun.
Rich: Do you think we’ll need it?
Jack: We should win. On paper, we’re much better and now we’ve got a win behind us, we should be fine. The only thing I’m worried about is the attitude of the players. There’s so much pressure.
Rich: Yeah - If the fans get behind us, we’ll be fine. They are a young squad so they’ll need the support. They have all played in big matches for their clubs, but it’s different playing for their country.
Jack: If they play like they do in the Premier League, Panama won’t be able to stop us.
Rich: Absolutely! If Dele Alli and Kane can link up like they do for Spurs, we’ll win.
Jack: Panama will be out for a win and will have to attack, but that will stretch them and give us chances.
Rich: And then we just need to take them. I mean, we had loads of chances against Tunisia.
Jack: Well, we did win.
Rich: But we could have done better. On Sunday, if we can be a bit more clinical we’ll get three or four, I reckon.
Jack: I hope so. I think I’ll try and find my lucky hat too.
This podcast was recorded on the 20th June. We are imagining the match finished 1-1. This is not our prediction, it’s purely for the roleplay.
Rich: We could have won that.
Jack: We should have won that.
Rich: We would have won that if we hadn’t given away that penalty.
Jack: He should have been booked for diving. It shouldn’t have been a penalty.
Rich: Yeah ... There was contact - not much contact, but, you know, it’s part of the game, these days.
Jack: Yes, but if we hadn’t given away that penalty, we’d have won.
Rich: Ugh! We started so well. Kane’s first goal was absolutely amazing. And then when Vardy got that tap in, I thought we had it in the bag.
Jack: Me too. Kane was playing so well - you know if he hadn’t been sent off, he’d have scored again.
Rich: He could have got two more.
Jack: But you’ve got to give it to Panama. They were tough.
Rich: Tough? They were lucky. After Kane was sent off we went to pieces.
Jack: You think? We were still one up. We should have sat back and defended. We should have parked the bus.
Rich: We were all over the place. If we’d marked their striker properly, he’d never have scored.
Jack: and in the 95th minute. That was hard to watch.
Rich: I know. Six minutes of injury time. Six minutes! If there hadn’t been all that injury time, they wouldn’t have equalised.
Jack: And now we need a win to stay in ... against Belgium.
Rich: The language we’re looking at in this podcast is conditionals.
Jack: Normally, these are presented as zero, first, second, third and mixed and there’s a lot to remember.
Rich: We’re only looking at two varieties, the first and the third. We’ll put a link on the page to the LearnEnglish grammar section on conditionals if you want to look at the other forms, but for now, let’s look at the first conditional.
Jack: We use this a lot before a match. We use it to talk about what we think will happen.
Rich: Hang on Jack, didn’t we talk about predictions a fortnight ago?
Jack: That’s right and you’ll see a lot in common with the language here. But the main difference between a prediction and a first conditional is the word if.
Rich: That’s right. A conditional sentence has two parts. A condition - the if clause and main clause or the result if the if clause is true. That’s starting to sound a bit difficult. Can you give me an example?
Jack: In the first roleplay, you said: If the fans get behind us, we’ll be fine. That sentence has two clauses the if clause - if the fans get behind us, and the main clause - we’ll be fine. In the first conditional, when we’re talking about real possibilities, we use the present simple in the if clause and then make a prediction in the main clause. Normally, we use will, but you can use going to as well.
Rich: Here’s another example from the roleplay that’s a little bit different. You said: If they play like they do in the Premier League, Panama won’t be able to stop us. The if clause is the present simple and the main clause is negative Panama won’t be able to stop us. You could say will not and even are not going to. I think won’t is the most common.
Jack: There are some more first conditional examples and activities on the page on the website below this podcast.
Rich: The second roleplay was different - and I hope it turns out to be wrong.
Jack: Yes - we’re only imagining this so we can give you clear examples of language. I hope we do better on Sunday.
Rich: But every football fan knows the feeling. When you don’t get the result you want, it’s natural to think back and imagine and to ask what went wrong.
Jack: The language we want to focus on is the third conditional. In these sentences, there are two clauses, the if clause and the main clause. Listen to what Rich said: We would have won that if we hadn’t given away that penalty.
Rich: So the if clause in that sentence is if we hadn’t given away that penalty. That’s if plus the past perfect.
Jack: and the main clause is we would have won. That’s the subject + would and the present perfect. There’s quite a lot of grammar here so let’s have some more examples.
Rich: You said: if he hadn’t been sent off, he’d have scored again. If Kane hadn’t been sent off - that’s the past perfect, he’d have scored again. He would have scored again. That’s would and the present perfect. One more?
Jack: OK - you said: If we’d marked their striker properly, he’d never have scored. That’s if we had marked... the past perfect, he would never have scored which is would plus a very strong negative present perfect.
Rich: This is quite a complex form, but what makes it difficult for learners is the pronunciation. The past perfect’s had is almost always contracted and the main verb is stressed.
Jack: And in the main clause, the would have becomes /dəv/ we’d have won. He’d have scored.
Rich: There are more examples and activities on the page below. If you have any questions about this language, please leave them in the comments and Jack or I will do our best to answer them.
Jack: And if you see a question in the comments that you can answer, please do. We love it when we see you guys helping each other.
Rich: This week, the task is simple. We’re going to give you three if clauses for first conditionals about the future and you have to complete the sentences with a main prediction clause.
Jack: And we’re going to give you three if clauses for third conditionals about the past and you have to complete the sentences with a main clause from your imagination. Remember, the third conditional is used to imagine a different result - not to describe what really happened so you have to use your imagination.
Rich:OK - let’s go. Number 1: If Kane wins the golden boot, he ...
Jack: Number 2: If VAR is successful, it ...
Rich: Number 3. If my country wins the cup, I ...
Jack: Right, OK, remember for these we are using the third conditional.
Rich: Number one. If they hadn’t scored, ….
Jack: Number two: If the referee hadn’t …
Rich: Number three: If [your favourite player] had ...
Rich: Have you got a football phrase for us this week?
Jack: Yes, I have, but first, last week’s football phrase. The World Cup football phrase was VAR. It’s an abbreviation that describes the system that is being used at the World Cup to allow a referee to look at a decision again on a TV screen. It’s going to VAR is a phrase that I’ve heard a few times during the World Cup.
Rich: Well done to everyone who got this right. We’re recording in advance so we’re not sure who did, but I’m sure our regulars all got that one right.
Jack: This week’s football phrase is ******** ******. This is is the part of a football or other competition where there are no second chances. It’s one team against the other. The winner goes through to the next round and the loser goes home because they have been ******* ***.
Rich: I’ve got it. Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below.
Jack: And hit the live tab on the homepage to join our World Cup Community programme and check out our predictions competition on the homepage.
Rich: If you have enjoyed this podcast or found it useful, leave us a rating or review and that will help other people find us.
Jack: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. Do you know the words in bold?
I’m not normally very superstitious, but you can never have too much luck.
Don’t count your chickens! There are no sure things at the World Cup.
We had loads of chances against Tunisia.
If we can be a bit more clinical we’ll get three or four, I reckon.
There were a few tricky words in the podcast. Do you know what they all mean? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words.
Speculating about the future
In this week's podcast, Jack and Rich roleplayed two conversations. The first conversation was before a match had started and they were speculating about what might happen. When we speculate about the future we often use the first conditional. Here are some examples from the roleplay you heard:
If the fans get behind us, we'll be fine.
If they play like they do in the Premier League, Panama won't be able to stop us.
If Dele Alli and Harry Kane link up like they do for Spurs, we'll win.
If we can be a bit more clinical, we'll get three or four, I reckon.
Like all conditional sentences, the first conditional has two parts; the if clause and the main clause. In the examples above, the if clause is in blue and the main clause in green. We use the first conditional to talk about something that is possible in the future. The if clause is the present simple and the main clause is will or won't plus the infinitive. In the examples, the if clause came first, but it's possible to put the main clause first with no change in meaning.
Talking about how things could have been different
In the second conversation, Rich and Jack were talking after the match and talking about things they wish had happened but didn't. When we talk about wanting to change things that are impossible to change because they have finished we often use the third conditional. Here are some examples from the roleplay you heard:
We would have won that, if we hadn't given away that penalty.
If he hadn't been sent off, he would have scored again.
If there hadn't been all that injury time, they wouldn't have equalised.
If we'd marked their striker properly, he'd never have scored.
Like the first conditional sentences, the third conditional has two parts; the if clause and the main clause. In the examples above, the if clause is in blue and the main clause in green. We use the third conditional to talk about how things in the past could have been different and past wishes or regrets. The if clause is the past perfect and the main clause is would or wouldn't plus the present perfect. Look at the final example above. Here you can see two contractions; 'we'd' and 'he'd'. What are the full forms of these contractions? Why are they different?
If you would like to learn more about conditional sentences, try the exercise below, or take a look on our Learn English website.
World Cup Speculation:
The language focus in this podcast was on conditionals and the language we use to speculate. We use conditionals to talk about what might happen in the future and to talk about how things could have been different in the past. Your task is to complete three sentences about the future and three about the past using the correct conditional forms. Write your answers in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Here are your sentences:
Things that might happen:
If Kane wins the golden boot, he ...
If VAR is successful, it ...
If my country wins the cup, I ...
Things that we wish had happened:
If they hadn’t scored, ….
If the referee hadn’t …
If [your favourite player] had ...
What do you think?
In this World Cup podcast, Rich and Jack speculated about a match and spoke about what they wish had happened in a match.
What do you think will happen during the rest of the World Cup?
What do you think Germany, Egypt and Iran are wishing had happened differently?
Use the first and third conditional to write your answers!
Remember to write your guess at this week's football phrase and the answers to this week's task, too!