English grammar – Zero conditional

Form

If + present simple + present simple

Meaning

Zero conditional is used to talk about facts or situations which are always true.

  • If you heat water, eventually it boils.
  • If people don’t eat or drink, they die.

Related grammar points

First conditional
Second conditional
Third conditional

5 teaching ideas and comments

  1. Karen

    I introduce it with a story:

    “When it rains, my roof leaks. When my roof leaks, the walls get wet. When the walls get wet, they get moldy. When they get moldy, I get sick. When I get sick, I go to the doctor. When I go the doctor, he always says the same thing, “Fix your roof!”

    I repeat the story substituting ‘whenever’, ‘every time’ and ‘if’. They guess the rule and I write it on the board. I present examples of other uses, scientific truths etc. and this is followed by multiple choice sentence practice, a cloze activity and writing their own little story.

    And just as a reminder, I point it out to them whenever it comes up in texts and recycle it for comparative purposes when doing conditionals 1,2 and 3. After studying all 4 conditionals, I give them a type recognition activity – a long reading filled with 30 conditionals.

    • Jonathan Saldivia

      I just wanted to say that I’m amazed with the activity you’ve proposed for teaching this topic. I just found it great!
      Thanks for sharing.

      Jonathan S.

    • Suman Banik

      Thank you Karen. I like your story. I am thinking to use it in my class as well.

  2. Mohamed Najih

    I like to introduce this simple structure by talking about general and scientific facts at the beginning of the lesson. Later on, I get them to think about possible relationships. For instance, “when it rains, the streets get wet”. I ask them: “what happens if it rains?” and at this stage I insist on using complete sentences to let them practice the structure.

  3. Henny Anggraini

    I teach zero conditional through song. Rain by The Beatles is an appropriate song for this. First, I ask my students to complete the lyrics while listening then we sing it together and after i write the zero conditional sentences from the lyrics on the board and highlight the use of zero conditional.

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