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  1. #1
    davidheath23 is offline Newbie
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    Zero Conditional or First?

    Hi all.

    So I'm an English teacher in Italy...I was teaching last night, and when reviewing conditionals with an upper intermediate class, this happened:

    As an example for the zero conditional, I used the sentence:

    "If the world explodes, we die." However, a student brought up that, because it is actually impossible to test this situation, it would be correct to use the 1st Conditional instead, "If the world explodes, we will die."

    In my opinion, the zero conditional is correct here. Although we cannot directly, scientifically prove that the world exploding would indeed cause or deaths, based on other conditions that lead to our death (IE: exploding), that this theoretical scientific proof is sufficient enough to warrant using the zero conditional.

    Thoughts? :)

  2. #2
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Re: Zero Conditional or First?

    Quote Originally Posted by davidheath23 View Post
    Hi all.

    So I'm an English teacher in Italy...I was teaching last night, and when reviewing conditionals with an upper intermediate class, this happened:

    As an example for the zero conditional, I used the sentence:

    "If the world explodes, we die." However, a student brought up that, because it is actually impossible to test this situation, it would be correct to use the 1st Conditional instead, "If the world explodes, we will die."

    In my opinion, the zero conditional is correct here. Although we cannot directly, scientifically prove that the world exploding would indeed cause or deaths, based on other conditions that lead to our death (IE: exploding), that this theoretical scientific proof is sufficient enough to warrant using the zero conditional.

    Thoughts? :)
    It's not appropriate for a zero conditional, your student is right.

  3. #3
    davidheath23 is offline Newbie
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    Re: Zero Conditional or First?

    But why? Take this example into account as well:

    "If my heart disappears, I die."

    It's not possible to reproduce the results of something like that, as making someones heart instantly vanish is not possible. However, based on other scientifically proven facts (that we cannot live without a heart), one can then infer that the zero conditional is in fact appropriate based on theoretical scientific proof.

  4. #4
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Re: Zero Conditional or First?

    Quote Originally Posted by davidheath23 View Post
    But why? Take this example into account as well:

    "If my heart disappears, I die."

    It's not possible to reproduce the results of something like that, as making someones heart instantly vanish is not possible. However, based on other scientifically proven facts (that we cannot live without a heart), one can then infer that the zero conditional is in fact appropriate based on theoretical scientific proof.
    It's the impossibility that is the problem, in my opinion.

  5. #5
    Kondorosi is offline Banned
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    Re: Zero Conditional or First?

    My understanding is:

    1. If the world explodes, we die.
    2. If the world explodes, we will die.

    The zero conditional is used to express a certainty, a universal statement, a law of science, etc.

    because it is actually impossible to test this situation, it would be correct to use the 1st Conditional instead, "If the world explodes, we will die
    Do we really need to test whether mankind would disappear off the face of the earth following the Apocalypse? It is every bit as much a certainty as the fact that at P = 10(exp5)Pa, H2O boils at T = 373K, irrespective of whether we have observed yet the Apocalypse or not.

    The first conditional is used more generally to express a hypothetical condition that is potentially true, but not yet verified. We can apply this too to your sentence. The earth shows signs of being fatigue.
    Last edited by Kondorosi; 22-Jan-2010 at 10:39.

  6. #6
    bhaisahab's Avatar
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    Re: Zero Conditional or First?

    On further reflection, it may technically be correct, but it's not a good example to use when teaching, there are many other, better examples to use.

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    Kondorosi is offline Banned
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    Re: Zero Conditional or First?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    On further reflection, it may technically be correct, but it's not a good example to use when teaching, there are many other, better examples to use.
    Amen to that!

  8. #8
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    Re: Zero Conditional or First?

    I always use nice simple zero conditionals such as,

    If people don't eat they get hungry.
    If you heat ice it melts.

    We know these to be true facts that your students cannot question.

  9. #9
    davidheath23 is offline Newbie
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    Re: Zero Conditional or First?

    Okay, okay, it's not the best example, but it was done during a review for an upper intermediate class. They've all heard "If you heat ice, it melts" and it was one of many examples that I pulled out of the top of my head.

    I feel that it benefits the students to hear different examples rather than the same over and over again, but I still firmly believe that it is, in fact, the zero conditional, as some have agreed here.

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