Real Conditionals Lesson Plan

In English, there are two kinds of conditionals: real conditionals and unreal conditionals.

We use conditionals all the time in English, so it's very important for your students to feel comfortable with them. Our English Conditionals: a Step-by-Step Workbook is a complete resource with all the explanations, examples, and exercises you need to teach your students English conditionals. 

You can use this lesson plan to introduce real conditionals (the zero conditional and the first conditional). It is best to separate the conditionals into a few lessons because they require lots of explanation and practice so that your students really understand the new skills. Be sure they feel comfortable with the real conditionals before you move on to the unreal conditionals!

Remember that we will always be organizing our English classes between introduction, activation, and review. This lesson plan is for a one-hour class.

an owl

Real conditionals introduction (15-20 minutes)

First, you will need to explain what real conditionals are.

A conditional sentence always has a cause and an effect. Real conditionals talk about real situations in the present or the near future.

The zero conditional talks about situations of cause and effect that are always true. We use the simple present in both clauses in the sentence.

For example:

  • When I go on vacation, I take a good book with me.
  • Whenever she sees a big dog, she feels nervous.

a big dog

Give your students several examples using these introduction words:

  • If
  • When
  • Whenever
  • Every time

Now, when we are talking about a situation of cause and effect in the present or the near future that is possible or probable, we use the first conditional.

Explain that the "cause" clause of these sentences will always be in the simple present. We have different options to complete the "effect" clause:

Give your students some examples of each case. Try to make them as real as possible for your students!

For example:

  • If we have some time this afternoon, we will go shopping.
  • If there are any apples left, you can have one.
  • If it rains, take an umbrella with you!

an umbrella

Now, have your students help you make some more examples. Help them create grammatically correct sentences. This is a good way to check their understanding before you move on to the next part of your class.

Activation (35 minutes)

To practice the conditionals, we will use two different activities. The first is a group activity.

Write the first part of some conditional sentences on the board. Have the students work together to help you complete them. Who can make the funniest or most interesting endings for the sentences? Here are some ideas. Depending on the size of your class, you can make more.

Zero conditional:

  • Whenever I feel tired, I...
  • If I have extra money, I....
  • Every time I watch a scary movie, I...
  • When we take vacations, we...

a vacation

First conditional:

  • If you forget your mother's birthday...
  • If the weather is nice this weekend...
  • If we work very hard in class today...
  • If have some extra money at the end of the month...

no money

Now you can do an interactive activity. Put your students into pairs. If you have just one student, you can do this activity together.

Use the following situations and have your students give each other advice. Student A will read a statement, and student B must give their partner advice based on the situation. They should use commands. Have them take turns giving and receiving advice.

Use the first example to explain how the activity will work. Make sure your students understand the instructions before you begin.

For example:

  • Student A: "I have a lot of work. I might not finish on time."
  • Student B: "If you don't finish on time, explain the situation to your boss."

Here are some more situations. You can use these examples to make more if you need them:

  • Student A: "I didn't sleep very much last night. I might feel tired this afternoon."
  • Student B: "If you feel tired this afternoon..."

  • Student A: "I have an interview this afternoon, I might get the job."
  • Student B: "If you get the job..."

  • Student A: "It is very cloudy. I think it might snow this afternoon."
  • Student B: "If it snows..."

  • Student A: "My birthday is next week. I might want to do something fun to celebrate."
  • Student B: "If you want to do something fun to celebrate..."

a celebration

Review (5-10 minutes)

You're almost done! Your students have learned how to make sentences with real conditionals in English, and they have practiced by making their own examples.

Now review quickly before you end class. First, congratulate your students on all their hard work. Then ask them to tell you in their own words how each of these conditionals is used. What kinds of situations do they describe? What tenses can we use to form them?

If you want, you can have your students create a few more silly examples before they go. Why not ask them what will happen if they do their conditionals homework perfectly? What will happen if they forget all about it?

If you keep your class fun, your students will really enjoy learning!