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 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

Can I invert?
If I were your sister, I'd always help you.
Were I your sister, I'd ....

How to make inversion of this sentence

If I won the lottery, I'd be really happy.

Thank you,Sir

Hello Risa warysha

Yes, you can invert the sentence like that. The inversion only happens in the first part, so the complete sentence would be 'Were I your sister, I'd always help you' and the other one would be 'Were I to win the lottery, I'd be really happy'. It sounds odd to say that, though, as inversion makes the sentence quite formal and saying 'I'd be really happy' doesn't sound very formal.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

if it weren't for that, I would have failed.
if it hadn't been for that, I would have failed.
Do these mean the same thing or can they be interpreted differently?

Thank you.

Hello sam61

You could use both of them to speak about something that happened that allowed you to succeed at something. There's no real difference in meaning in general. Perhaps in a very specific context one or the other would be better, but off the top of my head I can't think of one.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

In the second conditional "be" case, is "were" used for nouns too?
for example, If the company were successful, it would benefit the local region.
Does this work or should I have to use "was" instead?

Hello sam61,

Yes, you can use 'were' here. In modern English both 'was' and 'were' are used in these hypothetical sentences, though 'was' is considered poor style by many people.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi teachers, i would like to ask you two questions. 1) you would not have won the gold medal unless you (had worked out) work out hard. May i use the presente tense. 2) if i had waited for further ten minutes i would have met him.

In this second one i was wondering if it was a most informal way to use in the speaking skill so that i may be fluent and fast.

Thanks in advance.

Hello rosario70

In 1, the only tnese that is grammatically correct for that verb is a past perfect form. I'd recommend: 'You wouldn't have won the gold medal if you hadn't worked out hard.'

In 2, 'would have met' is the only correct form. In informal speaking,we usually use contractions and short forms to speak more quickly: 'I would've met him' (pronounced /aɪ wʊdəv mɛtɪm/) or even 'I'd've met him' (pronounced /aɪdəv mɛtɪm/).

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Today, We had a discussion group about conditionals and we had different opinions about the following sentence:
- If you are a well-organised person, you manage, will manage your time.
Some teachers say that "manage" is the only correct answer while others and I didn't agree with them as we thought that "will manage" is equally correct especially there was no more context.
Please, which one is correct?
Thank you.