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 Achmad Shocheb

Yes, that is grammatically correct. It means she lent you an umbrella and that you are going to school, but that you would not if you didn't have the umbrella.

If you wanted to speak about how you went to school (in the past), then you'd have to change it to: 'If she had not lent me an umbrella, I wouldn't have gone to school'. But I assume that is not the meaning that you want to express here.

You're right, there should be a comma after the word 'umbrella'. In a couple of the example sentences above, the comma was missing, but I have fixed this. Thanks for pointing it out!

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, krik. It's very helpful. I really appreciate your help.

Could you please help me?
- Unless they (had saved - have saved - saved) enough money, they won’t be able to go on holiday next summer.
Really I am confused. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam

I'm afraid none of these options is ideal. What would make most sense to me would be 'save'.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter,
Thank you for the answer. Perhaps my way of asking the question wasn't right. I intended to ask that there are any other situations or explanation of using Third conditional other than something that didn't happen as this email was sent by a British speaker. With your example made me understand how to use Third conditional.

Dear Kirk and Peter,

I am wondering these sentences below using WOULD HAVE BEEN are correct or not.

'However, from the 9th February for two weeks is not convenient for us as we are away. I know this would have been your half term break but is unfortunate perhaps you can suggest some alternative dates later on. '

I would write 'I know this is your half term break' instead of using WOULD HAVE BEEN, because the half term won't change whether he could make it or not on that day. Or is there any other meaning?

Hello Momonoki,

It is possible to use 'would have been' the action changes and what 'would have been' is no longer true. For example, if I ask someone to work during their holiday then I can say 'I know it would have been your holiday' because coming in to work stops it from being a holiday. However, with your example I cannot tell if this would be the case as I do not know the full context.

Please note that we do not generally correct sentneces like this. We're happy to answer questions relating to our own materials or questions about specific language points, but we don't check and correct users' emails and so on.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi..Consider a situation..

A mother is asking her son

"If you don't come home, I will kill you"

here killing her son is hypothetical. Can we use 'would' instead of 'will' ?

"If you don't come home, I would kill you"

which one is correct?
Thank you

Hi wisefool

Using 'would' in that situation would not be grammatically correct in standard British or American English. If you changed 'don't' to 'didn't', however, then 'would' would be appropriate instead of 'will'. See Conditionals 1 for more on these two forms (first and second conditional).

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi. Does it mean that the tense in both the clauses should be same?
Since 'don't' is in simple present then it should be 'will'.
if we change it to 'didn't' which is in past tense, then the verb in the second clause should be 'wouldn't' which is also the past form. Is my deduction right? sir.
Thank you Kirk