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 (115 votes)

Thanks Peter.

You are right that cricket is the context here :)

I understood the difference but I still have some doubt on "would have" usage. I have seen this construct being used for different sentences having different meaning. For example :
1. "Had I had enough time, I would have completed the task" - So here task was not completed for sure.
2. "He would have been very nervous before his speech" - Here we are not sure if he was nervous or not ( AM I right ?). If I am right then this somewhat contradicts with above example of "would have" where we know for sure that task was not completed.
3. Indirect form of "He said, he will have done it by evening" is "He said he would have done it by evening " -> so here we are just reporting directly what a person said. Does this "would have" have different meaning ?

Thanks again!

Regards,
Abhay

Hello again abhaykumar,

1. That's right. This sentence describes a hypothetical past, as you say: I didn't have enough time, so I didn't complete the task.

 

2. Yes, that's right. The speaker here is speculating about how he felt. It has a similar meaning to 'I expect that...' This use does not contradict the first sentence; rather it represents a different use altogether. Remember that each modal verb can express multiple meanings (e.g. could can express past ability, present speculation, present possibility etc) and the same meaning can be expressed by multiple verbs (possibility can be expressed by could, may, might etc).

 

3. The shift from will to would here is not about the modal verb but the context of the reported speech. We can leave the very in the original form if he statement is still true. For example:

She said she loves me. [she loved me when she said it and she loves me now]

She said she loved me. [she loved me when she said it; we don't know (from the sentence) if she loves me now]

Thus, 'He said he will have done it by evening' tells me that it is not yet evening; the statement is still true. On the other hand, 'He said he would have done it by evening' does not contain this information. It may not yet be evening and it may still be true (possible), or it may already be too late.

 

I'm guessing you're an India fan so congratulations on another fine win over the Aussies :)

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Peter. This really clarified my doubt on this.

And Yes I am Indian fan. Thank you :) - The first question I asked was based on commentary I heard during this match. You are good guesser :)

Submitted by Laura3000 on Tue, 13/12/2022 - 17:09

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Hi,

Why did we use "wasn't" and not "weren't" in this second conditional sentence?

If his house wasn't so far from the office, he'd bike to work every day.

Thanks

Hello Laura3000,

Both 'was' and 'were' are possible in these sentences. It's an example of the language changing: 'were' used to be much more common but 'was' is becoming more and more popular.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Amani Sweidan on Tue, 06/12/2022 - 10:32

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Hi, I have a question please

What is the difference in meaning for below statements?

If Italy qualified at world cup 2023, they would win the world cup
If Italy qualified at world cup 2023, they would have won the world cup

If Italy had qualified at world cup 2023, they would win the world cup
If Italy had qualified at world cup 2023, they would have won the world cup

and is it correct to (at) world cup or I should say (in) world cup?

Thank you so much indeed

Hi Amani Sweidan,

It should be ... qualified for the World Cup (the structure is qualify for X, if X is the competition that they successfully reached e.g. They qualified for the final / They qualified for the Olympics).

Let's take the sentences one by one. The key question here is - When is this person speaking (i.e. is it before or after the qualifying? And before or after the World Cup?)

  1. If Italy qualified at world cup 2023, they would win the world cup. This is a second conditional structure. It describes an imagined present or future situation. Therefore, the moment of speaking is before qualifying for the World Cup (and therefore before the World Cup too).
  2. If Italy qualified at world cup 2023, they would have won the world cup. "Would have won" shows a completed action. Therefore, the World Cup is already over (i.e., it is in the past). This meaning is similar to the third conditional (see sentence 4). But often when using the third conditional, speakers simplify the verb tense and use past simple instead of past perfect. The past timeframe is clear enough from would + a perfect verb (e.g. "would have won").
  3. If Italy had qualified at world cup 2023, they would win the world cup. Here, "had qualified" shows that the qualifying is already finished (i.e. it's in the past). But "they would win" shows that the World Cup is in the future. So, the moment of speaking is some time between the end of qualifying and the start of the World Cup.
  4. If Italy had qualified at world cup 2023, they would have won the world cup. This is a third conditional. It describes an imagined past situation. The qualifying and the World Cup are both in the past. So, the moment of speaking is some time after the World Cup has finished.

It's complicated but I hope that helps to understand these structures!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much Jonathan for your detailed answer,

So, at the moment (While the qualifying is already finished, and the World Cup has not finished yet!) which structure is correct to use from the 4 sentences?

I believe this one,

If Italy had qualified for the World Cup 2022, they would win the World Cup

Am I right!

Thanks again

Thank you for a very detailed reply to a good question. I have another question. I read that you can only form a mixed conditional with the structures from the 2. or 3. conditional.
So is the following example incorrect?

If Italy had qualified for the World cup 2023, they would be winning right now.

Many thanks for your suggestions.