„I do believe those first two years were the worst for him, and I also believe that if things had gone on that way, this place would have got the best of him.”
– Shawshank Redemption
Andy Dufresne, the young, successful vice president of a major bank is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover. However, only Andy knows he didn’t commit the crimes. The guards don’t really care about his innocence and they tell him if they hear any more words, he’ll visit the hospital.
In the prison he’s befriended by a convicted murderer named Red who eventually becomes his best friend. Red’s a guy who “knows how to get things,” and Andy asks him to get him a rock hammer to collect rocks. Red tells him that he wouldn’t ask questions if Andy wanted a toothbrush, he’d just quote a price because a toothbrush, is a non-lethal sort of object. Andy assures Red that a rock hammer is pretty small so if there’s trouble, he doubts a rock-hammer will do him any good.
Andy’s also befriended by some guys who are…well, let’s just say they don’t want to examine rocks with him. Andy thinks it would help if he explained to them he’s not homosexual. Red tells him that he’d grow eyes in the back of his head if he were Andy. Anyway, he fought because he knew if he didn’t fight, it would make it that much easier not to fight the next time. If things had gone on that way, this place would have got the best of him…
But then luckily something happens…With his considerable accounting skills, Andy begins helping Warden Norton and the guards with their taxes and other financial issues, and he’s suddenly starting his „new career” in the prison….
Andy promises Red that if he ever gets out, he’ll dig up something in a remote hayfield next to a large oak tree at the end of a stone wall, where he got engaged to his girlfriend. He tells Red that, if he should ever be paroled, he should look for that field, and that oak tree.
After 20 years at Shawshank, Andy doesn’t seem like himself. One morning, he doesn’t make it out of his cell for roll call. Red fears the worst, but astonishingly, he isn’t in there at all…
NOTE TO ALL CONDITIONALS: A conditional is made up of two parts: the if-clause and the main clause. We can put either one first and it doesn’t change the meaning. We usually use a comma if we put the if-clause first. So the order of the clauses is not fixed. You may have to rearrange the pronouns and adjust punctuation when you change the order of the clauses, but the meaning is identical: - „I'd grow eyes in the back of my head if I were you.” - „If I were you, I'd grow eyes in the back of my head.”
If + present simple, … present simple
This conditional is used when the result will always happen, so it is a fact or general truth not one particular situation. In zero conditional sentences, you can replace “if” with “when”, because both express general truths. The meaning will be unchanged:
- „If it rains, the grass gets wet.”
- „Ice melts when you heat it.”
The zero conditional is also often used to give instructions, using the imperative in the main clause:
- „Red, if you ever get out of here, do me a favour.”
- „If you want to keep that money, just give it to your wife.”
If + present simple, … will + infinitive
The first conditional refers to a possible condition and its probable result. These sentences are based on facts, and they are used to make statements about the real world, and about particular situations. It’s used to talk about things which might happen in the future. Of course, we can’t know what will happen in the future, but this describes possible things, which could easily come true. We often use such sentences to give warnings.
In first conditional sentences, the time is the present or future and the situation is real:
- „If you give up that right, anything you say will be used against you in court.”
- „If I hear so much as a mouse fart in here the rest of the night, you’ll all visit the hospital.”
- „If they over-starch my shirts again, they will hear about it from me.”
- „If there’s trouble, I doubt a rock-hammer will do me any good.”
In first conditional sentences, you can also use modal verbs in the main clause instead of the future tense to express the degree of certainty, permission, or a recommendation about the outcome:
- „If Norton calls you, you should go.”
- „I may finish that letter if I have time.”
NOTE: The first conditional is about a specific situation, but the zero is talking in general.
If + past simple, … would + infinitive
NOTE: In formal writing we usually use 'were' instead of 'was' with 'I' and 'he/she/it': „If I were you…” „If she were here…”
The second conditional refers to an unlikely or hypothetical condition and its probable result. These sentences are not based on the actual situation:
- „Would it help if I explained to them I’m not homosexual?”
- „He fought because he knew if he didn’t fight, it would make it that much easier not to fight the next time.”
It has two uses. Firstly, we can use it to talk about things in the future that are probably not going to be true:
- „I would move to Mexico if I won the lottery.”
Secondly, we can use it to talk about something in the present that is impossible, because it’s not true:
- „I’d grow eyes in the back of my head if I were you.”
- „If you wanted a toothbrush, I wouldn’t ask questions.”
In second conditional sentences, you can also use modals in the main clause instead of ’would’ to express the degree of certainty, permission, or a recommendation about the outcome:
- „In here, he’s an important man, an educated man. A librarian. Out there, he’s nothing but a used-up old con with arthritis in both hands. Couldn’t even get a library card if he applied.”
- „We might get a larger cell if we helped the wardens.”
NOTE: The first conditional describes things that I think are likely to happen in the future, whereas the second conditional talks about things that I don't think will really happen. It's subjective; it depends on my point of view and it is a lot more unlikely.
If + past perfect, … would + have + past participle
‘would + have + past participle’ is called the perfect infinitive.
It talks about the past. It’s used to describe a situation that didn’t happen, and to imagine the result of this situation. These sentences are truly hypothetical and unreal, because it is now too late for the condition or its result to exist. There is always some implication of regret with third conditional sentences. The reality is the opposite of, or contrary to, what the sentence expresses. In third conditional sentences, the time is the past and the situation is hypothetical:
- „If things had gone on that way, this place would have got the best of him.”
- „If Andy hadn’t done it, he wouldn’t have been arrested.”
In third conditional sentences, you can also use modals in the main clause instead of ‘would’ to express the degree of certainty, permission, or a recommendation about the outcome:
- „If I hadn’t been arrested, I could have gone to the funeral.”
- „If I had woken up earlier, I might have heard Andy’s escape.”
If + past perfect, … would + infinitive
If + past simple, … would + have + past participle
1. Past unreal situation, present result:
We can use the past perfect in the if-clause (like the third conditional) and ’would + infinitive’ in the main clause (like the second conditional) to talk about something unreal in the past that has a result in the present:
- „If he had gone to bed earlier last night, he wouldn’t be so tired now.”
- „Andy would be a millionaire now if he had taken that job.”
2. Present unreal situation, past result:
We can use the past simple in the if-clause (like the second conditional) and ’would + have + past participle’ in the main clause (like the third conditional) to talk about something that’s generally true but had a result in the past:
- „If Red could speak Spanish, he would have moved to Mexico.”
- „The librarian would have been able to translate the letter if his Spanish was better.”
In these mixed conditional sentences, you can also use modals in the main clause instead of ’would’ to express the degree of certainty, permission, or a recommendation about the outcome:
- „If you had dug a hole, you might be in trouble.”
THINGS TO NOTICE
Had or Would?
Both would and had can be contracted to ‘d, which can be confusing if you are not confident with third conditional sentences. Remember two rules:
’Would’ never appears in the if-clause so if 'd appears in the if clause, it must be abbreviating had. ’Had’ never appears before have so if 'd appears on a pronoun just before have, it must be abbreviating would.
Here is an extract from the Past tenses episode:
The short form for ‘had’ is ‘d.
The contraction ‘d can mean would or had. To tell the difference we need to look at what follows ‘d:
Would is followed by the bare infinitive (infinitive without to). Would be, would go, etc.:
I’d like some tea. (‘d = would)
He’d go if he had some money. (‘d = would)
It’d be a good idea. (‘d = would)
Would can also be followed by the perfect infinitive (have + past participle).
would have been, would have gone, etc.:
I’d have gone if I had had time. (‘d = would)
He’d have been 70 today. (‘d = would)
Had is followed by a past participle had gone, had had, had been, had spoken, etc…:
He’d gone home. (‘d = had)
He’d been married a year. (‘d = had)
She’d just spoken to her. (‘d = had)
I wish I’d waited longer. (‘d = had)
We can drop ’if’ and invert ’had’ to make the conditional more formal:
- From this:
„I would have stayed up with you all night if I had known how to save a life.”
- To this:
„I would have stayed up with you all night had I known how to save a life.”
VOCABULARY, PHRASES, COLLOCATIONS, IDIOMS, PHRASAL VERBS
The person who has the position immediately below the president in some countries, and who is responsible for the president’s duties if he or she is unable to do them.
To decide and say officially what a punishment will be.
Commit a crime:
(collocation) To do something illegal or something that is considered wrong.
The fact that someone is not guilty of a crime.
Quote a price:
(collocation) To name or state in advance the charge for doing or supplying something.
Large or of noticeable importance.
Far away in distance or time, or not closely related.
(Be/get) engaged to:
To be betrothed to someone.
Early release of a prisoner who is then subject to continued monitoring as well as compliance with certain terms and conditions for a specified period.
If someone does a roll call, they read aloud the names of all the people on the list to make certain that they are present.