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IF CLAUSES
Il periodo ipotetico è formato da una proposizione principale e da una subordinata
che pone la condizione affinché quanto detto nella principale si verifichi.

La subordinata è generalmente introdotta da if, unless, ecc … e può precedere o


seguire la principale a seconda che le si voglia dare maggiore o minore rilievo.

Esistono 4 tipi fondamentali di periodo ipotetico:

subordinata principale
Tipo 0 if + simple present / past simple present / past If / when you pour boiling
water into a glass, it cracks.
Tipo 1 if + simple present future If you come, I’ll be happy
Tipo 2 if + simple past would If you came, I’d be happy
Tipo 3 if + past perfect would have If you had come, I’d have
been happy

All’interno di questi tipi fondamentali di periodo ipotetico si possono trovare varianti


di tempo e di modo. La forma progressiva può essere usata quando si vuole mettere
in evidenza lo svolgersi dell’azione.

TIPO 0

Il periodo ipotetico di tipo 0 esprime verità universali o condizioni abituali. I tempi


usati nella frase principale e nella subordinata sono gli stessi e if può essere sostituito
da when:

If / when copper oxidizes, it becomes green.

In the 19th century people were imprisoned, if/when they didn’t pay their debts.

TIPO 1

Il periodo ipotetico di tipo 1 esprime condizioni reali o probabili:

You’ll get a stomach ache, if you eat too much curry.

What will you do if it rains on the day of the excursion?


2

Si osservi la differenza tra condizione probabile e verità universale:

If you leave that bottle of milk out of the fridge, it will go bad. (condizione probabile)

If you leave milk out of the fridge, it goes bad. (condizione abituale)

Alcune varianti del tipo 1:

subordinata principale
Don’t wake him up if he is present progressive imperative
sleeping

If you have already put on the present perfect future


kettle, I’ll make the tea.

If you’ve been travelling all night, present perfect continuous modal


you must be exhausted.

Should è spesso usato nel periodo ipotetico per attenuare l’idea di probabilità:

If you should decide to come, please let me know.

TIPO 2

Il periodo ipotetico di tipo 2 esprime ipotesi poco probabili o immaginarie:

I’d buy shares in that company, if I had enough money.

If the earth didn’t turn on its axis, one half of the world would be in eternal night.

In questo tipo di periodo ipotetico è usato were per tutte le persone come congiuntivo
passato del verbo be: in linguaggio informale si può trovare anche was :

If I were you, I wouldn’t trust him.

If he was/were a better manager, his team might win the cup.

Alcune varianti del tipo 2

subordinata principale
I’d be touring Europe now, if I had a car simple past conditional
progressive
If you asked him, he might help you simple past
modal
3

If he hadn’t left his family, he wouldn’t feel so past perfect


homesick now. present conditional

Should, usato nel periodo ipotetico del tipo 2, accentua l’idea di improbabilità:

If you should decide to come after all, I’d be delighted.

Should può essere sostituito da were to soprattutto quando è seguito da un verbo


d’azione. Were to è inoltre usato per dare un consiglio:

If you were to use a smaller screwdriver, I think you’d have less difficulty.

Would può essere usato in frase subordinata retta da if solo come verbo modale per
esprimere volontà, mai come condizionale:

I should be grateful if you would send me information about summer courses.

TIPO 3

Il periodo ipotetico di tipo 3 esprime condizioni irreali riferite a situazioni passate:

He would have stopped, if he had realized that the traffic lights were red.

If I had lived in the Middle Ages, I would have been an alchemist.

Alcune varianti del tipo 3:

subordinata principale
If you hadn’t been driving so fast, the past perfect past conditional
accident would never have occurred. continuous

He would have been a very good modal past conditional


architect, if he could have gone to
university

Nel periodo ipotetico le frasi subordinate possono essere introdotte, oltre che da if, da
espressioni come: provided (that), providing (that), so long as, on condition that,
unless.

Supposing, suppose e imagine sono usati per lo più con frasi del tipo 2 e 3.

I’ll be going now, unless you want to ask me anything else.

Imagine / suppose the world were going to end tomorrow: what would you do?
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In linguaggio formale le frasi subordinate con should, were, had possono essere
espresse invertendo l’ordine soggetto / verbo ed eliminando if :

Should you decide to consider the possibility of a discount please let us know as
soon as possible.

Had she taken more time to think, she might have acted more sensibly

Were it not for the expense involved, I would accept your proposal.

HOMEWORK
Complete the following sentences by inserting the verbs either in the present or future
tense.

1. If we take the next train we’ll arrive before midday. (take – arrive)
2. If you don’t’ ask them you’ll never learn the truth. (not ask – never learn)
3. If you don’t take the medicine you won’t get out (not take – not get)
4. If you freeze water it turns into ice. (freeze – turn)
5. He is allowed to leave early today if he stay later tomorrow (be – stay)
6. There is always plenty to do if my mother goes away (be – go away)
7. They have told her that if she does this film they’ll renew her contract (do –
renew)
8. If you leave that cut untreated it will become infected (leave – become)
9. If you leave cuts untreated they easily become infected in this climate. (leave –
become)
10.If you ask him for help he always give it (ask – give)

Translate the following sentences:

1. Se Tom ha viaggiato tutta la notte, stasera non vorrà uscire.


If Tom has been travelling all night, he’ll not want to go out tonight
2. Se hanno sentito del dirottamento saranno preoccupati per noi.
If they have heard about hijacking they’ll be concerned about us
3. Se ha ricevuto il messaggio ci starà aspettando.
If he has received the message he’ll be waiting for us
4. A che ora arriveranno se la strada tra le 2 e le 5 del pomeriggio sarà chiusa al
traffico ?
What time will they arrive if the road is closed to traffic from 2 on 5 pm?
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5. Se Roger si candiderà per le prossime elezioni, lo voteranno molte persone.


If Roger candidates for upcoming elections, he’ll be voted on by many
people.

For each of the following sentences write a new one using the information in italics.

e.g. Peter doesn’t see what you are doing be


furious
If Peter saw what you are/were doing he would be furious

1. George doesn’t know how dangerous that boat is. not set sail
again
If George saw how dangerous that boat is he wouldn’t set sail again
2. Gail doesn’t get good results. work
harder
Gail will get good results if he works harder
3. I am not rich. buy this
house
If I were rich I’d buy this house
4. I’ll write to them. be
pleased?
Will they be pleased if I write to them?
5. The actors aren’t good. be more
successful
If the actors are good the play will be more successful
6. I’m not the Prime Minister. reduce income
tax
I would reduce income tax if I were the Prime Minister
7. Sue isn’t here now. what
Sam do?
What does Sam do if Sue isn’t here now?
8. You haven’t lived here long enough. understand our
problems
If you had lived here long enough you would understand our problems
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9. You have to sleep alone in an isolated house. be


afraid?
Would you be afraid if you have to sleep alone in an isolated house?
10.You are in love with someone else. tell
me?
Would you tell me if you were in love with someone else?

For each of the following sentences write a new one starting with the words given.

e.g. You made such a noise that you woke your baby sister up.

If you hadn’t made so much noise you wouldn’t have woken your baby sister up.

1. We didn’t try to negotiate and the enemy attacked.


If we had tried to negotiate the enemy wouldn’t have attacked
2. They took their canoes down the river because they didn’t know how
dangerous it was.
They wouldn’t have taken their canoes down the river if they had known
how dangerous it was
3. You didn’t take the car to the garage when I told you to, so the car broke down.
If you had taken the car to the garage when I told you it would have
broken down
4. I didn’t meet you at the station because you didn’t tell me you were coming.
I would have met you at the station if you had told me you were coming
5. We’ve taken the wrong road, that’s why we haven’t arrived yet.
If we hadn’t taken the wrong road we would have arrived by now
6. We took a wrong way because we didn’t have a map.
We wouldn’t have taken a wrong way if we had have a map
7. I didn’t recognize him because he had grown a beard.
I would have recognized him if he had not have grown a beard
8. I was so late that we didn’t stay till the end of the concert.
We wouldn’t have stayed till the end of the concert if it had been so late
9. The tyres weren’t in good condition and so the car skidded on the wet asphalt.
The car would have skidded on the wet asphalt if the tyres had not been in
good condition
10.There was a full moon so it was easy to find our way back.
If would have been a full moon it had been easy to find our way back.
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Should and would can be used in if clauses with the meaning of respectively “by any
chance/happen to” or “be willing to/agree to”. Rewrite the sentences below replacing
the expressions underlined with either should or would

1. If by any chance you see Mike remember to tell him I won’t be at the meeting
tomorrow.
If you should see Mike remember to tell him I won’t be at the meeting
tomorrow
2. We would be very grateful if you agreed to grant us a delay in payment.
We should be grateful if you would grant us a delay in payment
3. If by some unlucky chance the situation became critical, we would leave
immediately.
If the situation should become critical, we would leave immediately
4. I’d be grateful if you were willing to inform your bank of the mistake.
I’d be grateful if you would inform your bank of the mistake
5. If anybody happens to find a pink cat with a green collar, please phone 034-
759954
If anybody should find a pink cat with a green collar, please phone 034-
759954
6. If they were willing to accept our proposal it would be an advantage for both
our companies.
If they would accept our proposal it will be an advantage for both our
companies
7. If only you were willing to listen to what I say, you would solve a lot of your
present problems.
If only you would listen to what I say, you’ll solve a lot of your present
problems.
8. If this flight happened to be cancelled we would have to wait till tomorrow
morning.
If this flight should be cancelled we would have to wait till tomorrow
morning
9. Even if he happened to know the truth, what would happen?
Even if he should know the truth, what would happen?
10.I don’t think things would change if by any chance the opposition came to
power.
I don’t think things would change if the opposition should come to power

Rewrite the following sentences with if


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1. Had anybody told me he was going to become a scientist I wouldn’t have


believed it.
If anybody had told me he was going to become a scientist I wouldn’t have
believed it
2. Should your temperature go up again, take two of these tablets.
If your temperature goes up again, take two of these tablets.
3. Had I know in advance they were coming I would have waited for them
If I had known in advance they were coming I would have waited for them
4. Should any problem arise, don’t hesitate to contact us.
If any problem arise, don’t hesitate to contact us
5. Were the Government to take more drastic measure the situation could get out
of control.
If the Government takes more drastic measure the situation will get out of
control

Translate each of the following sentences in the two possible ways (with and without
if).

1. Se fosse mio figlio lo incoraggerei a studiare musica.


If he were my son, I would encourage him to study music
Should him be my son, I would encourage him to study music
2. Se la casa fosse stata un po’ più a sinistra, sarebbe stata spazzata via dalla
valanga.
If the house had been a little leftmost, it would be swept away by the
avalanche.
Should the house have been a little leftmost, it would be swept away by the
avalanche.
3. Se un tale evento dovesse verificarsi, passeremmo subito all’azione.
If such an event were to occur, we would pass immediately into action.
Should such an event occur, we would pass immediately into action.