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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

Dear team,
I'm confused about "Third conditional" and "Mixed conditional". Can I understand that "Third conditional" is unreal, like imagine a past that would never occurred and lead to a expected result.
E.g, If I had studied Mathematics well, I would have scored high.
While "Mixed conditional" is the event already occurred, but I would like to describe the situation of the event hadn't occurred? For example, I had broke my leg yesterday, when I'm skiing.
E.g, If I hadn't ski, I wouldn't have broken my leg.
And what is the difference between past tense and past participle?
(I knew my grammer is terrible, but I had try my best to convey my ideas, please correct my mistakes)
Thanks a lot.

Hello Via,

Can I understand that "Third conditional" is unreal, like imagine a past that would never occurred and lead to a expected result.

Yes, that's correct. The 'third conditional' describes an imaginary/counter-factual past condition and its imaginary/countrer-factual result.

 

'Mixed conditional' is a term given to conditional sentences which have more than one time reference. In other words, instead of being about a past conditon and a past result, you may have a past conditon and a present result. For example:

If I hadn't gone skiing, I wouldn't have broken my leg. [unreal past conditon, unreal past result]

If I hadn't gone skiing, I wouldn't be in hospital now. [unreal past conditon, unreal past result]

In the first sentence, the form is [if + past perfect > would have + past participle].

In the second sentence, the form is [if + past perfect > would + base form]

 

Remember that the terms 'first conditional', 'second conditional' etc. are really just useful labels. In reality, there are only two rules for conditonal forms:

1. Conditional sentences must be logical in terms of time: the condition must be earlier in time than the result.

2. Conditonal sentences are either about real situations or unreal situations. You cannot mix an unreal condition with a real result.

This means there are many possible patterns, of which 'first', 'second' etc. are only common examples.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear team,
Could you correct my sentences?
If I had prepared a job interview carefully,
I'd have the job now.(Past/Present)
If I studied more, I'd have got high marks in each subject. (Present/Past)
Also, Sir, I've learned that there have other 4 types of mixed conditions.
In this Lesson, they were only 2 types.
So, maybe others are less common or advanced.
Should I have to study others?
Ty

Hello Ty,

Well done -- the verb forms in your two sentences are correct!

Most of our grammar pages explain what we consider to be the most important aspects of that grammar, but, as you've noticed here, there is often much more. A comprehensive English grammar would take many hundreds, if not thousands, of pages.

Without knowing you better, I'm afraid it's difficult for me to make a useful recommendation. Sorry!

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Is it correct using "unless" in the following sentence? If not, why?
- It is illegal to drive a car unless you are 18.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The sentence is fine grammatically but it would mean that you can drive only when you are 18. In other words, you cannot drive at 19, 20, 21 (etc).

I think what you mean to say is ...unless you are at least 18... or ...until you are 18...

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

In the past/present example of mixed conditionals, can I use the past subjunctive form, e.g, If I not got the job in Tokyo, I wouldn't be with my current partner? Many thanks.

Hello Q138BEN,

No, I'm afraid that's not correct. In the same way, 'If I didn't get the job in Tokyo, I wouldn't be with my current partner' is also incorrect. 'hadn't got' expresses a different past, which seems to be required for what you are trying to say here.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

I'm confused between the *second conditional* and *mixed conditional* (past/present)

If I didn't drink too much, I wouldn't feel terrible now. (second conditional)
If I hadn't drunk too much, I wouldn't feel terrible now. (mixed conditional)

Is there a difference in the meaning of the above two sentences.
My understanding is the result of both second and mixed conditional is in present. please correct me if I'm wrong.

Hello kyawkyawsoezhu,

Both sentences describe unreal situations. In other words, the speaker drinks too much in each case. The difference is the time reference.

 

The second sentence (hadn't drunk) describes a past situation with a present result. The speaker drank too much at some point in the past - perhaps last night - and now feels terrible.

 

The first sentence (didn't drink) is rather strange because the adverb 'now' does not really fit. Without 'now', the sentence describes a general fact about the speaker: he or she drinks too much and that makes him or her feel terrible. When you add 'now' you have an inconsistency: a general statement (drinking too much) with a very specific result (now). Specifically timed results generally come from specific actions, not from general truths, so the sentence is rather odd.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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