Conditionals: third and mixed

Conditionals: third and mixed

Do you know how to use third conditionals and mixed conditionals? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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

Average: 4.2 (109 votes)

Hello omar123,

The phrase 'mixed conditional' means simply that there are different time references in each half of the sentence.


What we call a first conditional, for example, has the same time reference: the if-clause refers to a real or likely present or future and the result clause refers to a real or likely present or future. A second conditional is similar, with each clause referring to an unlikely or imaginary present or future. In a third conditional both halves refer to an imaginary past.


In a mixed conditional we have one time reference in the if-clause and a different one in the result clause. For example, we might have an if-clause which refers to an imaginary past and a result clause which refers to an imaginary present.


All conditionals must be consistent in the sense that they must either be about a real situation or an imaginary one; we cannot mix these.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rajabpoor.behnam on Thu, 03/05/2018 - 19:47

hi. thank you. is this sentence correct "If it did happen, keep doing it." Best.

Hi rajabpoor.benham,

That sentence is not grammatically incorrect. It describes a past condition and uses an imperative form to give advice based on that condition.

We would generally say 'happened' rather than 'did happen' but 'did happen' is possible as an emphatic form.

Whether the sentence is correct will depend upon what you want to say and the context in which it is to be used. 



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by learning on Wed, 11/04/2018 - 08:36

Hi, Does "If I’d won the competition I’d be going to Florida next week." have the same meaning as "If I’d won the competition I’d go to Florida next week."? Thank you.
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Wed, 11/04/2018 - 12:16

In reply to by learning


Hi learning,

Yes, they mean pretty much the same thing, but the perspective of the speaker on the trip to Florida is different in each. It's difficult to describe well without context, but, for example, the first one would be more likely if I'm wistfully imagining a trip to Florida next week because it's nowing right now in Vermont where I am (even though it's April!). The second one is more likely when you're not showing emotion about the trip, i.e. it's more matter-of-fact.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user FadeFade

Submitted by FadeFade on Sat, 10/03/2018 - 06:08

What about: "If tomorrow is a public holiday, I don't have to go to work. If tomorrow were a public holiday, I wouldn't have to go to work." I'm not sure if the second one is applicable to sentence in the future

Hello FadeFade,

Both sentences describe the future (the word 'tomorrow' tells us this) but the second sentence describes a future which is imaginary rather than real, or which the speaker does not believe will come true.



The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user AdityaV

Submitted by AdityaV on Fri, 09/03/2018 - 08:38

Hello Peter,I would like to know whether this sentence is correct or not "I have a doubt If you could digest our food or not" please clarify my doubt and in the above sentence the speaker wants to know if the other person can digest their country's food or not.