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.

 

Exercise

Etiquetas

Comments

Hi,

'If the devil is going to use a human womb for his spawn, he is going to...''

Is this correct in the if clause? Maybe this is informal form. For example,

''If I had money, I would go for Paris'' = ''If I would have money, I would go for Paris''

One is standard English sentence and the other is informal form.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Thank you in advance

Hello MCWSL,

It is possible to use 'going to' in both clauses like this. The meaning in the if-clause is 'if... is planning to...' and in the result clause 'then... is what we can expect'

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

''If I am to work with you, what will you offer to me?''

Is this the same as ''If you were to work with me, what would you offer to me?''?

The second is unreal conditional meaning fewer possibility, so the first, which is real, maybe is more likely but still not probable?

Thank you.

Hello JamiMakav,

The meaning here is something like 'If I agree to work with you' or 'If I end up working with you'. It is a formal way to express this but is not an unreal condition.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,

you mentioned above that "Third conditional sentences describe the past. They describe something that didn’t happen.". I would like to seek your clarification regarding this, i.e. does the third conditional describe something that factually did not happen (that is, we know for certain), or does it describe something that the speaker/author believes didn't happen (that is a believe, unverified fact)? Or does the third conditional cover both scenarios which I've described above?

Thanks!

Regards,
Tim

Hi Timothy555,

The speaker believes that the situation did not happen but of course they may be mistaken. For example:

If she had passed her exam she would have started university.

DIdn't you hear? She did pass it in the end.

Oh, I didn't know that. She must have just decided university wasn't for her, then.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your response to my query above. I have some further questions regarding conditionals.

- I read elsewhere that conditional sentences should be punctuated with a "comma" when the if-clause is at the beginning of the sentence. But this doesn't seem to be the case with some of your examples, such as "If it snowed tomorrow I’d go skiing". May I know if this punctuation rule which I've mentioned is something that is "set in stone"?

- Also, am I right to say that the second conditional is used to talk about unreal/hypothetical situations, not just in the present but also in the future? quoting your example "If it snowed tomorrow I’d go skiing", I assumed that the second conditional would apply to future unreal/unlikely-to-happen situations, hence your use of "tomorrow".

- Lastly, may I know if there is any difference between the subjunctive mood and conditionals?

Thanks!

Regards,
Tim

Hello,
I'd finished the lesson, and I'd like to know if I'm right and if I got it with this examples:
- They wouldn't have had hangover if They hadn't drank too much
- If I had eaten that hamburguer, I wouldn´t have been hungry.
I'll appreciate your comments.
Best regards,
Felipe.

Hello felipeur,

Those are almost correct but have a couple of spelling errors. The correct sentences would be:

 

They wouldn't have had a hangover if they hadn't drunk too much.

If I had eaten that hamburger, I wouldn´t have been hungry.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

''If John is dead, Jack has been dead for weeks''(If the if-clause is true, Jack was dead before John's death''

''If John has come to the town, he has failed the exams''(again the same thing as above)

Logically the actions in either if clause happen before the actions of either result clause, but it somehow satisfy the rule, which is ''condition always happens first.'' Could you explain this?

Thank you

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