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


Hi guys,
Is it normal to use "had better" with conditional type two?
(the original sentence)If you're not in a hurry ,it would be a good idea to take the hotel shuttle.
(making a question using "had better" and conditional type two)
What had Jane better take if she were in a hurry?

Hello Arash Yekta

Please note that 'had better' is a pretty strong thing to say to someone and so it's a little unusual to use 'had better' in a question about someone else. And if we use this form in a question, it's usually a negative question (follow the link for a detailed explanation).

If you want to use a second conditional, I'd suggest something like 'What would Jane need to take if she were in a hurry?' instead.

Hope this helps.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Are the two following sentences correct ? What is the difference between them?
1- If I had broken bones like Samy, I would have travelled abroad to be treated there.
2- If I had broken bones like Samy, I would travel abroad to be treated there.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam

Both can be correct depending on the context. What did you have in mind?

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

My confusion is: Is "had broken bones" past perfect+noun
past simple+adjective+noun?
In other words, is it second, third or mixed conditionals?
Thank you

Hello Ahmed Imam

Both forms are possible here, that is, the context will tell you whether it's a third conditional or a past simple plus a past participle/adjective. I understand 1 to be a third conditional and 2 as a past simple plus adjective plus noun.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Could you help me, please?
Are the two following forms of conditionals correct? If so, what is the difference?
1- If he hadn't stayed up late yesterday. He wouldn't have been tired today.
2- If he hadn't stayed up late yesterday. He wouldn't be tired today.
Thank you.

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".)