Conditional I in English Grammar


The conditional I is mostly used in the second conditional. The conditional I expresses an action that could take place under other circumstances.

Learn about the conditional I online with Lingolia and test your grammar skills in the exercises.


  • I am baking a cake. Can you help me?
  • If I had time, I’d help you. But I need to go to town. The tram leaves in ten minutes.


In English grammar, we use the conditional I for:

  • present or future actions that could take place under different circumstances
    If I had time, I would help you.

Conjugation of English Conditional I Tense

To conjugate the conditional I, we need the auxiliary verb would and the base form or inifinitive of the main verb. Look at the table below for examples of positive, negative and interrogative conjugations.

positive negative question
all forms are the same I would speak I would not speak Would I speak?


Contractions are a combination of certain pronouns, verbs and the word not. They are mostly used in spoken and informal written English. The table below provides an overview of contractions in the conditional I tense using the verb would.

long formcontractionexample
would …’d they’d
would not …’d not/… wouldn’t I’d not/I wouldn’t

Negated Contractions

In written English, we usually form contractions with a pronoun and an auxiliary verb, but not with a noun and an auxiliary verb.

She’d not ask if she didn’t need help.
(but not: His mother’d/Mrs Sanders’d not ask if she didn’t need help.)

The negated contractions, in which the verb and not are combined, can always be used (no matter what kind of word comes before them).

She wouldn’t ask if she didn’t need help.
His mother/Mrs Sanders wouldn’t ask if she didn’t need help.