Do you know how to use third and mixed conditionals?

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.



Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


Hello Ahmed Imam

Yes, both forms are correct but one or the other would be more appropriate depending on what time it is 'today'. The first one, for example, would make more sense towards the end of 'today', when what happened today is already the past. The second one would make more sense at the beginning of the day, when there is still time left today.

Does that make sense?

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hellow sir, please may u check my sentences if they are grammatically correct.

I met John yesterday and he told me a lot of things that happened in his life since we lost in touch. I felt very sorry for him but I told him if he could remember my phone number that I wrote in his diary, he would phone me. Probably I would offer him a help. Unfortunately he didn't. I advised him not to be quite once he gets problem. Next time if he gets any problem he'll consult me. Oh yes of course, If he had remembered my phone no he would have contacted me and I'm sure I might have given him a help.


Is this a third conditional sentence:

"If anyone had called her shallow, she would have been genuinely shocked."

(It seems to follow the pattern for a third conditional but I'm thrown off by the "been".)


Hi Sasham,
Yes, your sentence is in the third conditional form.
'Been' is the past participle of the verb 'be' which is used here as an auxiliary verb to express a passive situation.
Compare these two sentences:
'Sarah shocked her father when she told him that she was pregnant'.
'Sarah's mother was shocked to here that her daughter was pregnant'.
The first sentence is 'active' because the subject, Sarah, is actively shocking her father. The second sentence is passive because the subject, Sarah's mother, is passively receiving the shock.
In your sentence, the subject 'she' would have passively received a shock if anyone had called her shallow, hence the use of the auxiliary verb 'been'.


I can't tell if this sentence is a second conditional or a mixed one. Could you please shed some light on it?
"If she were to meet Tolstoy, she was quite sure that he would embrace her."
- extracted from "Trading Up" by Candace Bushnell

Hello sasham

I'd need to know the full context to be sure, but it sounds to me as if this is another way of saying 'She was quite sure that if she were to meet (which is another way of saying 'met') Tolstoy, he would embrace her', which is a second conditional embedded in a 'that' clause. Does that make sense given the full context?

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

What is difference between words technically and literally???

Hello innocentashish420

Please look these words up in a dictionary -- I think that should clarify it for you. If not, please give a specific example and tell us a little more of what you understand or don't understand and we'll try to help you.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I would like to ask a question about the previous lesson grammar . There was an example says "If Arsenal win they will be top of the league" Arsenal as a team consists of 11 players is plural ,but as one unit it's singular. So my question here is "it's treated as plural in the example so can I treat it as singular " and what is the rule i should follow about this

Hello Roman...

That's very observant of you to notice that. In British English, we often use a plural verb with a collective noun, i.e. a noun that refers to a group of people. This is why the sentence says 'If Arsenal win ...'. You might hear some speakers of British English say 'If Arsenal wins', but in my experience most people say it the way it's written here.

In American English, 'If Arsenal wins' is the only commonly used form for this kind of thing.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team