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 (117 votes)

Hi jiyi,

I'm afraid I can't find the examples you are speaking of on this page. In sentence 1, the second verb would need to be 'would have had' for it to be a full third conditional structure. Sentence 2 looks correct to me.

I think what might be confusing you is the form 'to have to', which indicates obligation. It can be confusing, because 'have' is also part of the 'would have + past participle' form that is used in the third conditional. If you changed the second part to just 'apologise' (instead of 'have to apologise'), then you'd get:

1st conditional: If I kiss her, I will apologise
2nd conditional: If I kissed her, I would apologise
3rd conditional: If I had kissed her, I would have apologised

I hope that clears it up for you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Wed, 26/09/2018 - 21:36

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Could you please explain" wouldn't+ verb"? For example: I wouldn't leave the office until I had checked that all the doors were locked. My question is: shouldn´t we use "didn't leave" instead of "wouldn´t leave" or is it correct as it is. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

What is correct here depends on the situation and what the speaker means. If this sentence is about a specific past action, then you are right, 'didn't leave' is the best form. 'would' can be used to speak about past habitual actions, however, so it is actually possible to use it here if that's what the speaker means.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Hopefinder on Wed, 12/09/2018 - 08:43

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Hello everyone, first I would like to thank you all for the extraordinary efforts you are doing. Could you kindly correct me for the following sentences? 1)) Supposed we are in summer and I would say: " She would go skiing if it snowed tomorrow" ; I imagine it had a chance to snow tomorrow, even in hot summer. 2)) In the same day which it supposed to snow, but did not, I would say: "She would go skiing now if it had snowed." 3)) The day after , I would say: "She would have gone skiing if it had snowed yesterday." Am I using "if" correctly? Thank you in advance and greetings.

Submitted by MariaMafalda on Wed, 15/08/2018 - 18:24

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Hi everyone @TheLearnEnglishTeam. I thought I knew all the rules related to conditional sentences until I came across the following sentence uttered by a native speaker (a very famous native speaker, by the way). This is the sentence: "If we didn’t build the public infrastructure in the early 20th century to support mass electrification, only the wealthy would have had heat and running water". My question is: shouldn´t he have started the "if" clause using "If we hadn´t built". This would make more sense to me. Am I wrong? Thank you for your kind reply. Cheers!

Hi MariaMafalda,

Yes, 'if we hadn't built' is the most correct form here. As you can see, native speakers do make mistakes, particularly when speaking spontaneously, in which people often change structures in mid-sentence.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MortazaAyabenzer on Sun, 08/07/2018 - 19:38

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In this lesson: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/b1-b2-grammar/past-habits-used-to-would-and-the-past-simple What do you mean by saying that "However, only ‘used to’ is possible when we talk about past states."I think we basically use "would" for past habits. Could you please explain it more and give more example? Best

Hello MortazaAyabenzer,

This use of 'would' is not uncommon, but we also use 'used to' and the past simple quite often, probably more often than 'would' in fact. I think you might find the explanation of 'used to' and 'would' on this Cambridge Dictionary page useful and would recommend that to you. If you have any other questions after that, we're happy to help, but please make them about a specific sentence or pair of sentences if possible.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team