JoLIE 11:2/2018


Back to issue page







Amna Brdarević Čeljo

International Burch University, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Senad Bećirović

International Burch University, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Melisa Bureković

University of Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina






Being syntactically and semantically fairly complex, conditional clauses are a rather troublesome area in the English grammar, even when the learners’ focus is directed only towards the three basic patterns. In spite of English language learners’ prolonged exposure to these constructions, major errors are still detected in their production. Particularly problematic are imaginative conditional clauses, with their two subtypes, namely present/future hypothetical/counterfactual and past counterfactual conditional clauses, which are considered to be more marked and containing more morphological material than real conditional clauses. However, two subtypes of imaginative conditional clauses also differ in markedness, with past counterfactual conditional clauses being more marked than present/future hypothetical/counterfactual conditional clauses. Thus, the present study aims to explore whether 103 Bosnian university-level English-majoring students face more difficulties in the production of past counterfactual conditional clauses than present/future hypothetical/counterfactual conditional clauses on different types of tests, namely the English-Bosnian translation test, the Bosnian-English translation test, the rewriting test and the fill-in-the-blank test. Moreover, it aims to investigate whether some external factors, such as grade-point average and grade level, have a significant effect on the use of these conditional clauses. The research results point to the students’ slightly higher results obtained in the use of past counterfactual conditional clauses overall and on two different tasks, namely the English-Bosnian translation test and the rewriting test. Moreover, the results also indicate that the students’ GPA from grammar-teaching courses and their grade level have a significant effect on the overall and individual use of two subtypes of imaginative conditional clauses.


Key words: Present/Future Hypothetical Conditional Clauses; Present Counterfactual Conditional Clauses; Past Counterfactual Conditional Clauses; Markedness.





Alexander, L.G. (1990). Longman English Grammar Practice for Intermediate Students. Longman: New York.


Barić, E., Lončarić, M., Malić, D., Pavešić, S., Peti, M., Zečević, V., & Znika, M. (1997). Hrvatska gramatika (2nd Edition). Zagreb: Školska knjiga.


Bećirović, S., Brdarević Čeljo, A., & Sinanović, J. (2017). The Use of Metacognitive Reading Strategies among students at International Burch University: A Case Study. European Journal of Contemporary Education 6(4), 645-655. DOI: 10.13187/ejced.2017.4.645


Berent, G. P. (1985). Markedness considerations in the acquisition of conditional clauses. Language Learning 35, 337-373. DOI:


Bloom, L., Lahey, M., Hood, L., Lifer, K., & Fiess, K. (1980). Complex sentences: Acquisition of syntactic connectives and the meaning relations they encode. Journal of Child Language 7 (02), 235-261. DOI:


Celce-Murcia, M., & Larsen-Freeman, D. (1999). The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher's Course (2nd Edition). New York: Heinle and Heinle.


Chou, C.L. (2000). Chinese speakers’ acquisition of English conditionals: Acquisition order and L1 transfer effects. Second Language Studies, 19, 57-98.


Comrie, B. (1976). Aspect: An introduction to the study of verbal aspect and related problems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Comrie, B. (1986). Conditionals: a typology. In E.C. Traugott, A. Ter Meulen, J.S. Reilly, J.S., & C.A. Ferguson (Eds.), On Conditionals (pp. 77-79). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Covitt, R.I. (1976). Some Problematic Grammar Areas for ESL Teachers. Unpublished M.A. thesis in TESL, UCLA.


Delić, H., Bećirović, S., & Brdarević Čeljo, A. (2018). Effects of grade level and gender on foreign language learning process in Bosnian high schools. International Journal of Educational Policy Research and Review, 5(6), 83-89. DOI:


Eckersley, C.E., & Eckersley, J.M. (1983). A comprehensive English grammar. Essex: Longman House.


Ellis, R. (2003). Second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Ellis, R. (2012). The Study of Second Language Acquisition (2nd Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Ferguson, C.A., Reilly, J.S., Meulen, A., & Traugott, E.C. (1986). Overview. In E.C. Traugott, A. Ter Meulen, J.S. Reilly, J.S., & C.A. Ferguson (Eds.), On Conditionals (pp. 3-21). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Gimeno, V.V. (2003). Grammar learning through strategy training: A classroom study on learning conditionals through metacognitive and cognitive strategies. Valencia, Spain: Universitat de Valencia Servei de Publications.


Greenberg, J.H. (1966). Language Universals. In T.A. Sebeok (Ed.) Current Trends in Linguistics, Vol. 3 (pp. 61-112). The Hague: Mouton.


Hill, L.A. (1960). The Sequence of Tenses with If Clauses. Language Learning, 10(3-4), 165-178. DOI:


Huddleston, R., & Pullum, J.K. (2010). The Cambridge grammar of the English language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Izumi, S., & Bigelow, M. (2000). Does output promote noticing and second language acquisition? TESOL Quarterly, 34(2), 239-278. DOI:


Jung, H., Yang, B., & Yu, J. (2005). A study of errors in the use of tense and subjunctive in college students’ English composition. English Language Teaching, 17, 259-282.


Ko, W. (2013). A study on the acquisition of if-conditionals by Korean- & Spanish-speaking Learners of English. English Teaching, 68(1), 141-178. DOI:


Maule, D. (1988). ˝Sorry, but if he comes, I go˝: teaching conditionals. ELT Journal, 42(2), 117-123. DOI:


Norris, R.W. (2003). How do we overcome the difficulties of teaching conditionals? Bulletin of Fukuoka International University, 9, 39-50.


O’Grady, W. (1997). Syntactic Development. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Ortega, L. (2013). Understanding Second language acquisition. New York: Routledge.


Popović, Lj., & Mirić, V. (2001). Gramatika engleskog jezika sa vežbanjima. Beograd: IP ‘Zavet’.


Popović, Lj., & Popović, M. (1996). Gramatika engleskog jezika kroz testove. Beograd: IP ‘Zavet’.


Ridjanović, M. (2012). Bosnian for foreigners with a comprehensive grammar. Sarajevo: Rabic.


Rizvić Eminović, E., Bujak, A., & Bureković, M. (2018). A Study of Trends in the Level of English Language Grammatical Competence at Zenica University. In M. Mulalić, N. Obralić, A. Mulalić, & E. Jelešković (Eds.), The Future of Humanities, Education and Creative Industries: Proceedings of the 3rd ICECI Sarajevo 2017 (pp. 197-206). Sarajevo: International University of Sarajevo.


Thomson, A.J., & Martinet, A.V. (1986). A practical English grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



How to cite this article: Brdarević Čeljo, A., Bećirović, S., & Bureković, M. (2018). The use of imaginative conditional clauses by Bosnian university-level English-majoring students. Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education – JoLIE, 11(2), 25-40. DOI: 



For details on subscription, go to: