Third conditionals and mixed conditionals

Conditionals are sentences with two clauses – an ‘if clause and a main clause – that are closely related. Conditional sentences are often divided into different types.

Third conditional

Third conditional sentences describe the past. They describe something that didn’t happen.

  • If I’d studied harder at school I would have gone to university.

He didn’t study very hard and he didn’t go to university.

  • We wouldn’t have got lost if you hadn’t given me the wrong directions.

She wasn't given the correct directions and she didn't find her way.

  • She might have finished the exam if she’d had more time.

She didn't finish the exam and she didn't have more time.

In third conditional sentences, the structure is usually if + past perfect and would + perfect infinitive (e.g. have done). It’s not important which clause comes first.

Notice that other modal verbs can be used instead of ‘would’ (e.g. ‘could’, ‘might’ ‘may’)

Mixed conditionals

In mixed conditional sentences the time in the ‘if’ clause is not the same as the time in the main clause. There can be various combinations.

  • If he’d gone to university he might have a better job.

He didn’t go to university (past)
He doesn’t have a very good job. (present)
This sentence shows the present consequences of a past action.

  • If I’d won the competition I’d be going to Florida next week.

She didn’t win the competition (past)
She isn’t going to Florida (future)
This sentence shows the future consequences of a past action.

 

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Hi,

Does "If I’d won the competition I’d be going to Florida next week." have the same meaning as "If I’d won the competition I’d go to Florida next week."?

Thank you.

Hi learning,

Yes, they mean pretty much the same thing, but the perspective of the speaker on the trip to Florida is different in each. It's difficult to describe well without context, but, for example, the first one would be more likely if I'm wistfully imagining a trip to Florida next week because it's nowing right now in Vermont where I am (even though it's April!). The second one is more likely when you're not showing emotion about the trip, i.e. it's more matter-of-fact.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

What about:
"If tomorrow is a public holiday, I don't have to go to work.
If tomorrow were a public holiday, I wouldn't have to go to work."
I'm not sure if the second one is applicable to sentence in the future

Hello FadeFade,

Both sentences describe the future (the word 'tomorrow' tells us this) but the second sentence describes a future which is imaginary rather than real, or which the speaker does not believe will come true.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,I would like to know whether this sentence is correct or not "I have a doubt If you could digest our food or not" please clarify my doubt and in the above sentence the speaker wants to know if the other person can digest their country's food or not.

Hello AdityaV,

This sentence is intelligible but the first part is not idiomatic. I would recommend something like 'I'm not sure you could digest ...' or 'I wonder if you could digest ...'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot,I have one more doubt how to express when both clauses are related to future unreal events like "If there was holiday tomorrow I would come?/would have come?"which one is correct?In real there is no holiday and the speaker must go to college.

Hello AdityaV,

The way I would phrase this is as follows:

If there was a holiday tomorrow then I would come.

Both clauses are hypothetical: we understand that the speaker knows or believes that there is not a holiday, and that therefore he or she will not come.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you dear sir,but I would want to know what do you mean by not idiomatic??please elaborate.

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