First Conditional: When, As Soon As, Unless

First conditional in english grammar

“I’ll call you as soon as I arrive!”

Click here to review the First Conditional.

It is possible to use other words instead of if in first conditional sentences:

 

ALTERNATIVE TO “IF” WHY USE IT? EXAMPLE
When When the “condition” will definitely happen. When I die, I’ll leave all my money to charity.
As soon as To emphasize immediacy This situation is very urgent. I’ll call you as soon as I have more information.
Unless In place of “if not” You’ll fail the test unless you study.
= You’ll fail the test if you don’t study.

Let’s study each case separately.

When: When the “condition” will definitely happen in the future.

Look at the difference between these two sentences:

  • If I see Sam, I’ll give him your message. (I’m not sure if I will see him or not)
  • When I see Sam, I’ll give him your message. (I will definitely see Sam)

As soon as: To emphasize immediacy.

  • My feet hurt! As soon as I get home, I’m going to take off these high heels.
  • As soon as we have enough money saved, we’ll take a vacation to Costa Rica. We can’t wait!
  • I’ll respond to your e-mail as soon as I can.

Unless: Substitute for “if not.”

  • You won’t lose any weight unless you start eating healthier food.
    = You won’t lose any weight if you don’t start eating healthier food.
  • I’m not going to dance unless somebody invites me.
    = I’m not going to dance if somebody doesn’t invite me.
  • Unless there’s an emergency at work, I’ll be home on time.
    = If there’s not an emergency at work, I’ll be home on time.

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