I read in an Egyptian reference that if we want to differentiate between zero and first conditionals we generalize the facts or define them like in these examples: 

1a- If a cube of ice is heated, it turns into water.

1b- If this cube of ice is heated, it will turns into water.

2a-If it rains , streets become wet

2b- If it rains tonight, streets will become wet.

3a- If it rains, streets become wet

3b- If it rains, the streets of our town will become wet.

How far is this true?

 

 

Original Post

Hi, Ceedhanna,

How far is this true?

It's clever of you to question the truth of that explanation. I'd say that the assertion that reference makes is only partially true.

Sentences 1b, 2b and 3b do sound better with the future in the result (please notice that the verb in (1b) should be "will turn" without an "s"), but sentences 1a, 2a and 3a can also be expressed with a first conditional even if they are generalizations: instead of expressing the immediate effect of a cause, they will be expressing certainty in the future:

1c- If a cube of ice is heated, it will turn into water.

2c-If it rains, streets will become wet.

 

ceedhanna posted:

I read in an Egyptian reference that if we want to differentiate between zero and first conditionals we generalize the facts or define them like in these examples:

Hi, Ceedhanna: I agree with Gustavo's answer, particularly with his point that the "generalized" (a) sentences may be suitably expressed with either the zero conditional or the first conditional.

I think that a better way to differentiate the two, for a learner who is trying to decide between them, is to try to express the conditional using "whenever" instead of "if." If "whenever" works, so will the zero conditional:

1d- Whenever an ice cube is heated, it turns into water.

1e- *Whenever this ice cube is heated, it turns into water.

3d- Whenever it rains, streets get wet.

3e- Whenever it rains, the streets of our town get wet.

Notice that (3e) works. Thus, (3b) could be changed to a zero conditional: "If it rains, the streets of our town get wet." Incidentally, for the sake of naturalness, I changed "a cube of ice" to "an ice cube" and "become wet" to "get wet."

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