If you are a well-organised person, you ..................... your time.

a) will manage

b) would manage

c) manage

d) managed

This sentence was included in our GSSC final exam. Students were supposed to choose only one of the options provided.

Do you think it should be first conditional (WILL MANAGE), or Zero conditional (MANAGE)?

Thank you very much 

Original Post
Abdullah Mahrouse posted:

If you are a well-organised person, you ..................... your time. [. . .]

Do you think it should be first conditional (WILL MANAGE), or Zero conditional (MANAGE)?

Hello, Abdullah,

Both answers are correct, assuming there is no context to decide between them. Their meaning is simply different. Each would be used in a different context.

The first conditional ("If you are a well-organized person, you will manage your time") makes a prediction about future behavior if the condition is fulfilled.

Suppose you are talking to someone about a future time period, and he has just told you he is a well-organized person. You could use the first conditional.

The zero conditional ("If you are a well-organized person, you manage your time well") states that time management is a characteristic of a well-organized person.

Suppose you are talking to someone about what it means to be well organized. You could use the zero conditional or you could say this, equivalently:

  • Well-organized people manage their time.

The zero conditional could even be used to defend the first conditional if it were used as a premise in a longer argument:

A: Our only concern is whether you will manage your time.
B: I am a well-organized person.
A: That's good. If you are a well-organized person, you will manage your time.
B: What makes you say so?
A: All well-organized people manage their time. In other words, if you are a well-organized person, you manage your time. That is part of what it is to be a well-organized person.

Please note that the "you" of the zero conditional is universal, generic "you," equivalent to "one," whereas the "you" of the first conditional is a specific person.

Another way to see this is to see that the zero conditional could also be phrased like this: "If someone is a well-organized person, he manages his time."

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