There are four conditional patterns in English. Generally you learn about first and second conditionals at the pre-intermediate level. Sometimes teachers mention the zeroeth conditional. The third conditional is often saved for later because it seems complicated.
The /zɪroʊθ/ conditional is one in which the condition is purely a logical link, not a temporal one. (hehe... not so simple the zeroeth conditional). Here if is equivalent to when.
- If you snooze, you lose.
- If she doesn't practice, she gets rusty.
Notice that the verbs are conjugated in the standard present tense. (3rd person -s) The present progressive (be + -ing) is not common with the 0th conditional, because the 0th is outside of time.
The first conditional is very common:
- If you wait here, I'll get the zombies for you.
- If you don't wait here, the zombies will get you for me. ^^
- They can't hear you or smell you if you stay here.
- If you're coming to the dinner tonight, I'll see you there.
- I'll take the newspaper if you've finished with it.
Any present tense verb can be used in the if-clause (called the protase'). One of three modals (can, may, will) is used in the other clause (called the apodose).
This is very similar to French.