## View Poll Results: In which conditional can 'if' be replaced with 'should'?

Voters
668. This poll is closed
• Zero conditional

160 23.95%
• First conditional

259 38.77%
• Second conditional

158 23.65%
• Third conditional

91 13.62%

1. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Join Date
Nov 2002
Posts
40,160

## Conditionals

Does it change the meaning?

2. Member
Join Date
May 2003
Posts
133
Just curious, do Americans use this construction:

Should you want it, I'll have it ready for you.

I missvoted. This is the first conditional. :D

Does it change the meaning? Not sure, I never use this construction.

Iain

3. Question: In which conditional can 'if' be replaced with 'should'?
Answer: Well, it's not the zero conditional. However, while you can't use should with the zero conditional, you can use when. (You can also make a zero conditional statement using either should or when.)

Examples:

• If you heat water to 100 degrees Celsius, it boils.
When you heat water to 100 degrees Celsius, it boils.
Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.

What do you think?

:)

[Edited for spelling.]

4. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Join Date
Nov 2002
Posts
40,160
Some people argue that the zero conditional isn't a true conditional because 'when' can be used in place of 'if'.

In BE, we do replace 'if' with 'should' in the first conditional and it seems to reduce the probability of the condition being met, like a halfway house to the second conditional.

5. Originally Posted by tdol
Some people argue that the zero conditional isn't a true conditional because 'when' can be used in place of 'if'.
But it is, isn't it? After all, a specified condition must be met before a specified result can occur. (If the water does not reach 100 degrees Celsius it does not boil.) BTW, I meant to ask (but forgot to) is why is it called a zero conditional?

Originally Posted by tdol
In BE, we do replace 'if' with 'should' in the first conditional and it seems to reduce the probability of the condition being met, like a halfway house to the second conditional.
It's interesting that you said that. I was considering disagreeing with myself. How about:

• Should water reach 100 degrees Celsius it will boil. (If it doesn't it won't, but should it do so it will.)

What do you think?

:)

6. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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Should water reach 100 degrees Celsius it will boil. (If it doesn't it won't, but should it do so it will.)

That takes it into the first conditional. It's called the zero conditional, I believe, because the link is automatic.

7. No should for the zero conditional then. I will just have to agree with myself.

:wink:

8. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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Nov 2002
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40,160
It sounds like a good idea.

9. Member
Join Date
Sep 2003
Posts
429
Originally Posted by RonBee
No should for the zero conditional then. I will just have to agree with myself.

:wink:
I have come across ' should ' being added for a matter of probability.

eg We will not go if it rains. Or We will not go if it should rain.

10. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Join Date
Nov 2002
Posts
40,160
That's fine, but you would find it hard to do that in a zero conditional as they express certainty not probability. )

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