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

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Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Fri, 18/09/2020 - 15:02

Hello. Is it correct using "unless" in the following sentence? If not, why? - It is illegal to drive a car unless you are 18. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The sentence is fine grammatically but it would mean that you can drive only when you are 18. In other words, you cannot drive at 19, 20, 21 (etc).

I think what you mean to say is ...unless you are at least 18... or ...until you are 18...



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Q138BEN on Sat, 12/09/2020 - 11:37

In the past/present example of mixed conditionals, can I use the past subjunctive form, e.g, If I not got the job in Tokyo, I wouldn't be with my current partner? Many thanks.

Hello Q138BEN,

No, I'm afraid that's not correct. In the same way, 'If I didn't get the job in Tokyo, I wouldn't be with my current partner' is also incorrect. 'hadn't got' expresses a different past, which seems to be required for what you are trying to say here.

Hope this helps.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kyawkyawsoezhu on Sat, 05/09/2020 - 15:26

I'm confused between the *second conditional* and *mixed conditional* (past/present) If I didn't drink too much, I wouldn't feel terrible now. (second conditional) If I hadn't drunk too much, I wouldn't feel terrible now. (mixed conditional) Is there a difference in the meaning of the above two sentences. My understanding is the result of both second and mixed conditional is in present. please correct me if I'm wrong.

Hello kyawkyawsoezhu,

Both sentences describe unreal situations. In other words, the speaker drinks too much in each case. The difference is the time reference.


The second sentence (hadn't drunk) describes a past situation with a present result. The speaker drank too much at some point in the past - perhaps last night - and now feels terrible.


The first sentence (didn't drink) is rather strange because the adverb 'now' does not really fit. Without 'now', the sentence describes a general fact about the speaker: he or she drinks too much and that makes him or her feel terrible. When you add 'now' you have an inconsistency: a general statement (drinking too much) with a very specific result (now). Specifically timed results generally come from specific actions, not from general truths, so the sentence is rather odd.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks, fo the explanation but I still don't understand. The first sentence is Second Conditional, as I understand we can use the Second Conditional to imagine present or future situations, that's why I added *now* to describe a present situation.

Hello again kyawkyawsoezhu,

As I said in my first answer, the problem is that you are mixing a general statement (If I didn't drink so much...) and a result with a concrete time (now). In effect, your sentence is saying that you feel terrible now because you generally drink too much. It's possible to say this, but it's more likely that how you feel now is the result of a particular act, not general behaviour.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Priyesh on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 15:57

Can I write- "If It was John/If John came, I would killed him"?

Hello Priyesh,

'Would killed' is not grammatical. You need 'would have killed' here.



The LearnEnglish Team