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Conditionals 2

Do you know how to use third and mixed conditionals?

Look at these examples to see how third and mixed conditionals are used.

We would have walked to the top of the mountain if the weather hadn't been so bad.
If we'd moved to Scotland when I was a child, I would have a Scottish accent now.
If she was really my friend, she wouldn't have lied to me.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Conditionals 2: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

Do you know how to use third and mixed conditionals?

Third conditionals and mixed conditionals

Conditionals describe the result of a certain condition. The if clause tells you the condition (If I hadn't been ill) and the main clause tells you the result (I would have gone to the party). The order of the clauses does not change the meaning.

If I hadn't been ill, I would have gone to the party.
I would have gone to the party if I hadn't been ill.

Conditional sentences are often divided into different types.

Third conditional

The third conditional is used to imagine a different past. We imagine a change in a past situation and the different result of that change.

If I had understood the instructions properly, I would have passed the exam.
We wouldn't have got lost if my phone hadn't run out of battery.

In third conditional sentences, the structure is usually: If + past perfect >> would have + past participle.

Mixed conditionals

We can use mixed conditionals when we imagine a past change with a result in the present or a present change with a result in the past.

1. Past/Present 

Here's a sentence imagining how a change in a past situation would have a result in the present.

If I hadn't got the job in Tokyo, I wouldn't be with my current partner.

So the structure is: If + past perfect >> would + infinitive.

2. Present/Past

Here's a sentence imagining how a different situation in the present would mean that the past was different as well.

It's really important. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have called you on your holiday.

And the structure is: If + past simple >> would have + past participle.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Conditionals 2: Grammar test 2

Language level

Intermediate: B1
Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

Hello misam,

It is possible to use modal verbs such as 'might' in the if-clause of a conditional sentence but the meaning is not the normal meaning of the verbs. They are used to show politeness by making the condition more tentative, particularly when it functions as an offer or request. For example:

If you come this way, I'll show you to your seat.

If you will come this way, I'll show you to your seat. [more polite]

'Will' is the modal verbs usually used in 'first conditional' forms in this way. We can also use 'should' to give a sense of 'by chance':

If I should die, think only this of me... [meaning 'if I happen to die']

For 'second conditional' forms a similar meaning comes from using 'if + were to':

If I were to die, you would be happy.

It is possible to use 'could have' in place of 'had been able to' in your example, though it is not common. However, 'might have' and other perfect modals are not used. Both 'could have' and 'had been able to' indicate ability, but 'could have' is used for general ability (having the ability to do something) whereas 'had been able to' indicates both this and success on a particular occasion:

If I could have finished the race, I would have done so. [OK]

If I had been able to finish the race, I would have done so. [OK]

If I had been able to open the window, we could have got in. [OK]

If I could have opened the window, we could have got in. [not OK]

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thanks Peter for your comprehensive answer but unfortunately I am still doubtful if i can use "might" in if clause of unreal now condition,according to the use that you perfectly explained,or not.
and I am still on the fence weather following sentence is true or not.
If I might have been able to see him,i would have revealed all the secrets .

thanks a million Peter.

Hello misam,

No, I would not say that that is a natural sentence. 'Might' implies likelihood or probability and as this action is in the past there is no probability involved: we know for sure whether or not it happened. Therefore I would say that 'If I had been able to' would be the correct form here.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hey guys i'm really frustrated cuz i've been looking for native speakers to help me improve my english; writing and speaking skills via skype and correcting essays and i couldn't find can u help me

Hello HalimaQueen,

I'm afraid we don't offer this facility on LearnEnglish, nor do we act as a facilitator for teachers. There are plenty of sites on the internet which offer such services, however.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thanx dude at least for responding
best wishes :)

Hello,

In the sentence "If I’d studied harder at school I would have gone to university"

"i'd" stand for i had or i would ?

regards

Hello dr.wabduh,

It stands for 'had' here - the verb form is past perfect and the structure is often called a 'third conditional'.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thanks a lot Peter, i appreciate your clarification.

regards

hi all , i am fresh graduate and i want to learn English in order to improve my career Opportunities , any one help me please?and from where i can start ?

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