Conditional Sentences

Russian conditional sentences work slightly differently compared to English:

  1. Things that actually happen:
    E: If [something in the present], I [something in the present] If I drink coffee at night, I don’t sleep well.
    R: Если я пью кофе на ночь, я плохо сплю. (If + Present Imperfective, Present Imperfective)
    Option: Если я выпью кофе на ночь, я буду плохо спать (If + Future Perfective, Future Imperfective).
    These two options (with present and with future) are completely interchangeable.

  2. Things that will happen in the future if conditions apply:
    E: If I drink coffee tonight, I won’t sleep well.
    In English, the if-part is in the Present. In Russian, both parts are in the Future:
    R: Если я выпью на ночь кофе, я не засну / я буду плохо спать.
    The if-part is perfective here, but it works for both type-1 and type-2 sentences. Russian doesn’t differentiate here unlike English.

  3. Imaginary/ unreal situations in the present or future:
    E: If I drank coffee tonight I wouldn’t sleep well.
    R: Если бы я выпил (выпила) кофе на ночь, я бы плохо спал (спала).
    Note: Both parts of the Russian conditional sentence is in the Past and contain бы (=would).

  4. Imaginary or unreal situation in the Past:
    E: If I had drunk coffee last night, I wouldn’t have slept well.
    R: Если бы я вчера вечером выпил кофе, я бы плохо спал.
    Technically, type 3 and type 4 are the same, only “last night” - вчера вечером - indicate the Past.