‘It depends…’ (Zero Conditional)

Let’s see how we can use the Zero Conditional in IELTS Speaking and Writing.

Zero conditional for habits

Focus on Speaking Part 1

You can often answer the questions in Speaking Part 1 with ‘it depends’.

e.g. It depends on the weather/the job/your age.

Practise these questions:

  1. What do you usually do at the weekends?
  • It depends (on the weather). If the weather‘s nice, I go for a run but if it’s rainy I tend to stay at home and get some work done.

(You can use ‘when‘ or ‘whenever‘ to replace ‘if‘ when/whenever/if you’re talking about habits!)

2. Do you prefer to work in the mornings or in the evenings?

  • It depends what kind of work it is! If I need to do the housework, I do that first thing in the morning so I can get it over and done with, but I’m a night-owl so if I have homework to do, I tend to work late into the night, when it’s quiet.

3. Is it better to go on holiday with your family or with friends?

  • It depends on your age. If you’re in your twenties, it’s probably more fun to go away with your friends, but if you’re married with kids, then most people choose to spend holiday time with their families.

4. How do you usually get to work?

  • It depends on the traffic. If I have an early start, I usually drive but during rush-hour it’s actually faster and less stressful if I walk.

5. Who usually does the cooking in your home?

  • It depends on who gets home first. If I get home before my husband I usually start cooking, but if we’re both working late we usually get a takeaway.

Common Mistake!

*It’s depend of* – many of my students say this.

How to avoid common mistakes?

Repeat and repeat the correct version over and over again – say it out loud.

Repeat these sentences:

  • It depends on the weather.
  • It depends on my mood.
  • It depends on your age/how old you are.
  • It depends on where you live.
  • It depends on the time of day.

Top Tip – use contractions.

Contractions are one of my top 5 ways to improve your pronunciation very quickly before the Speaking test. Find the other 4 tips here.

In the Speaking examples above, you can see I’ve used contractions for ‘I am’ and ‘It is’ and ‘I’d‘.

We’ll talk more about the importance of using contractions with conditionals throughout the course.

Zero Conditionals for Habits

Zero Conditional for facts and scientific truths

‘If’ can be replaced with ‘when in zero conditionals that describe facts, processes and scientific truths.

For example when you describe a process in Academic Writing Task 1.

When the water is released, it generates electricity’.

When water is added to the mixture, it produces a liquid that can be used as fertiliser’.

  • We will come back to when/if later in the course.
Hydroelectric power station

The diagram illustrates the basic principle of hydroelectric power generation. Overall we can see that the system is based on the regulated flow of water between two reservoirs. The process involves 2 key stages that are reversed at night.

First of all, natural river water is channelled into the upper reservoir, where it is stored. A large dam has been built to contain the water. However, during the day the water is released beneath the dam when the intake is opened, and the water passes through pipes leading to the power station. The enormous force of the water falling from a height generates electricity when it passes through a turbine. 

This electricity is then fed to the national grid via power cables. Once the water has passed through the turbine, it flows into a lower level reservoir. Then, when there is less demand for electricity at night, the water is pumped back up to the higher reservoir using the same turbines which operate in reverse.

(166 words)

‘As long as’ (only if)

It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop’.

Conditionals are often used in Reading and Listening questions. Here’s a clear example of how a knowledge and understanding of conditionals will help in all areas of the test.

Example from a Reading Text: Matching People (Coffee and Chocolate)

Ms Philpott argues that as long as the process is rigorous and offers financial gains to the producers, shade growing does benefit the environment.

21. If shade-coffee farms match the right criteria, they can be good for wildlife. Answer E Stacey Philpott