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 (111 votes)

Hi MortazaAyabenzer,

 

Both sentences are possible.

 

If you use the form if it had not been for then the condition is rooted in the past. The addition of the movie theatre was a past event. There may be other events which provide opportunities today, but at that time the addition of the movie theatre was the only thing that gave opportunity.

If you use the form if it weren’t for then you show that the condition is something which is a generally true. It was true in the past and it is still true now.

 

You can see the difference more clearly in these examples:

I wouldn't have been able to cope if she hadn't helped me.

I wouldn't have been able to cope if she weren't so helpful.

In the first sentence (hadn't helped) her help is one action at a particular time in the past. In the second sentence (weren't so helpful), she is generally helpful - now as much as then.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Mr Peter! Please, I need you to clear me on this: 1) He won't be able to cope if she doesn't help him. 2) He won't be able to cope if she isn't so helpful to him. 3) He wouldn't be able to cope if she didn't help him. 4) He wouldn't be able to cope if she wasn't so helpful to him. 5) He wouldn't be able to cope if she hadn't been so helpful to him. 6) He wouldn't have been able to cope if she wasn't so helpful to him. 7) He wouldn't have been able to cope if she hadn't been so helpful to him. 8) He wouldn't be able to cope if she weren't so helpful to him. 9) He wouldn't have been able to cope if she weren't so helpful to him. MEANING 1) and 2) are the same: I say this if i think "she's unlikely to help him". 3) She's likely to help him. 4) HERE COMES MY QUESTION. 5) Shows the present consequences of a past action. 6) and 7) are the same: Past action. 8) She's helpful to him presently only. 9) She's been helpful to him - then and now. MY QUESTION: IS SENTENCE 4) THE SAME AS 3) OR 5)?

Hello Dan.hilton,

I'm afraid this isn't the sort of help we can provide. We're happy to explain points on our own pages which are not clear, or sometimes to explain aspects of the language which puzzle our users. Howeverr, we do not deal with tasks from elsewhere which may be part of another course, a test or come from homework.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you! I understand you perfectly. The task isn't part of another course, a test or homework. I actually took the sentence from yours above, made more sentences from it, but after going through all I've been totally confused if WASN'T in (4) is acceptable assuming the speaker don't know what the reality was or the speaker is referring to the unlikely present or future (2nd conditional). I'll be grateful if you let me know your view on this. Thanks.
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 26/09/2018 - 06:55

In reply to by Dan.hilton

Permalink

Hello Dan.hilton,

Sentence 4 expressed the same concept as sentence 3. It describles an alternative/hypothetical present situation. It does not refer to a particular act, but makes a general statement.

3) He wouldn't be able to cope if she didn't help him.
4) He wouldn't be able to cope if she wasn't so helpful to him.

In both sentences we understand that

  • she does help him / she is helpful to him
  • because of this he is able to cope

and therefore

  • if she did not help him / if she was not helpful to him
  • then he would not be able to cope

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hakuna Matata on Sat, 12/05/2018 - 17:16

Permalink
Hello, sir. I'm in an English course. I've got a question about conditional sentence type 2. Is it correct if I use 'was' as tobe for She/He/It? For example; - If she was my girlfriend, I would kiss her. - If it was sunny, I'd go picnic. Because I find my self that 'were' is used by those three subjects mostly. Could you please give me more explanation? Thank you, sir!

Hello Hakuna Matata,

I would suggest you use the form that your teacher recommends, but I can explain this a bit more. Traditionally, 'were' was the correct verb for any subject in the if-clause of a second conditional construction. Nowadays, however, people often use 'was' when the subject is 'I' or 'he', 'she' or 'it' (as in your sentences). So most people would probably say your example sentences are correct, but some teachers might not.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by omar123 on Fri, 04/05/2018 - 13:34

Permalink
if it were up to me i would have killed you a long time ago ??? correct

Hello omar123,

Yes, that is a correct sentence - though it needs capitalisation.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team