The key difference between conditional and subjunctive is that conditional sentences are used to express conditions that are real or unreal, while subjunctive is used to express unreal situations.
Conditional and subjunctive are somewhat complex grammar lessons in any language. Both are mainly used with hypothetical situations or situations that have not yet taken place. In the English language, conditional sentences usually contain the word ‘if’. But subjunctives do not have such markers.
What is Conditional Sentence?
We usually use conditional sentences to describe hypothetical events. But it’s possible to use conditional to describe real events as well. In the English language, most conditional sentences have the word ‘if’. A conditional contains two clauses, the main clause and the dependent clause. The main clause expresses the consequence or the results, while the dependent clause expresses the condition. The main clause is also called the consequent, while the dependent clause is called the antecedent.
Conditional sentences usually indicate one thing that is contingent on something else since the main clause of the sentence being conditional on the dependent clause. There are mainly two types of conditional sentences named implicative and predictive.
Implicative Conditional Sentences
This is also called a factual conditional sentence and expresses an implication. It says that if one factor happens, so does the other. These sentences are used to express a universal statement, certainty or law of science.
- If the sea is stormy, the waves are high.
- If you heat water to 100 degrees, it boils.
Predictive Conditional Sentences
This conditional sentence is based on a hypothetical yet entirely probable future situation.
- If you see the enemy, shoot!
- Will you go to the party if she invites you?
Conditional Type 1 – for Probable Situations
“if” + [Simple Present], “will” + [Verb]
- If it rains, you will get wet.
- If you don’t hurry, you will miss the bus.
Conditional Type 2 – for Unlikely Situations
“if” +[Simple Past], “would” + [Verb]
- If it rained, you would get wet.
- If you went to bed earlier, you wouldn’t be so tired.
Conditional Type 3 – for Impossible Situations
“if” + [Past Perfect], “would have” + [Past Participle]
- If it had rained, you would have got wet.
- If you had worked harder, you would have passed the exam.
What is Subjunctive Sentence?
Subjunctive sentences are used to express hypothetical, unrealistic states or situations that are not necessarily real such as opinion, emotion, possibility, wish, judgement or action that has not yet taken place. The exact situations that these sentences are used differ from language to language.
- If it were me, I would go.
- I wish it were real.
- I propose he work part-time.
In the above instances, ‘was’ has become ‘were’ and ‘works’ has become ‘work.’
|Normal Form||Normal Example||Subjunctive Form||Subjunctive Example|
|am, are, is
(to be in the present tense)
|I am ready.
You are pretty.
She is there.
|be||I demand that I be ready.
I ask that you be truthful.
It’s essential that she be there.
(third-person singular of to have in the present tense)
|She has an opportunity.||have||I demand she have opportunity|
(first-person and third-person singular of to be in the past tense)
|I was free.
He was kind.
|were||If I were free, I’d go.
I wish he were kind.
|prepares, works, sings, etc.
(third-person-singular verbs in the present tense, i.e., ones ending s)
|She makes pizza.||prepare, work, sing, etc.
(remove the s)
|I propose she make pizza.|
What is the Difference Between Conditional and Subjunctive?
The key difference between conditional and subjunctive is that conditional sentences are used to express certain conditions that are real or unreal, while subjunctive is used to express various situations of unreality such as opinion, emotion, possibility, wish, judgement or action that has not yet taken place.
The following table summarizes the difference between conditional and subjunctive.
Summary – Conditional vs Subjunctive Sentences
Conditional sentences are used to express conditions that are real or unreal. It is introduced by the word ‘if.” It has three types named conditional type one (probable situations), two (unlikely situations) and three (impossible situations). Subjunctive sentences are used to express unreal situations or actions that have not yet taken place, and it is introduced by the word ‘wish.’