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


First of all, thanks a lot for such a great material.
I was wondering if this is correct:
If he’d gone to university he could have had a better job.

Basically I got in doubt because I think, in the first example above, the second part of the conditional sentence should imply some kind of an unreal sense; because he doesn't have a better job now. But I don't get that unreal sense by using "might".

Thanks in advance

Hi Mozhdeh,

Yes, that sentence is fine. You know the situation is unreal from the first part of the sentence and both 'could' and 'might' also give a sense of something unreal, but with slightly different emphasis.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much, I get it clear now.

Hello, can you tell about difference between "should be" and "must be"
Are they the same or not, in what sentences we use should be and must be
thanks again for great cooperation

Hi, i am new here. Thanks for providing such a great learning platform.
Sir I have a little confusion and wish you to resolve it..
Above, in last sentence you have used past simple in if clause.
Could we use present simple instead of using past simple.

Thank you in advance

Hi Syed sami ul haq,

It is possible to use the present simple in the if-clause, but the meaning is then changed. We use [if + present... (then) will + verb] for likely or real events, and [if + past... (then) would + verb] for unlikely or unreal events.

You can find more information on these types of conditional sentences, sometimes called first and second conditional forms, on this page.

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, could you please explain me if I use present simple in the sentence what meaning it will give and if pasr simple is used what will be the difference in meaning. If possible explain it using example. Because it is quite difficult for me to recognize what situation it is, I mean likely or unlikely.


Hi Syed,

In general, this is the difference between the first conditional (present simple after 'if') and the second conditional (past simple after 'if'), which are explained on our Conditionals 1 page. The key difference is subjective - if you regard something as possible or likely, then you should use the first conditional. On the other hand, if you regard it as unlikely or impossible, then use the second conditional. Please see the examples on the page I mention. If it's still unclear, please let us know on that page.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Yesterday I posted my query but it didn't appear, so I'm posting it again now. Thank you for being patient.
I'm doing a correct mistake exercise on Relative clauses and Reduced relative clauses (-ing clauses and -ed clauses). Please tell me if we can always change a relative clause into a reduced relative clause. If not, why not?
In the sentence below, I have to correct a mistake. Can I rewrite it in both types of clauses? According to the key of the exercise, it's rewritten in relative clause.
"Like other women PIONEERED => WHO PIONEERED or PIONEERING (or both) in the field medicine, Sara Mayo found the beginning years difficult."
Thanks for your help.

P/S: sorry if my query is not clear enough. I'll try to explain again if needed.