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: 4.1 (88 votes)

Submitted by Hanker-after on Thu, 29/06/2023 - 13:41

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Hello
How to distinguish between normal conditional sentences and the mixed conditionals especially when it comes to multiple choice sentences like this one:
If I had saved more money I .......... this house.
a- would have owned. b- would own.
What is the correct answer of this sentence? why? does the answer depend on the meaning of the sentence or on the existence of certain time words?

another question : are there any time words that are usually used with mixed conditional sentences, like now or yesterday, etc? please if there are any , mention them .

Thank you very much

Hello Hanker-after,

The terms 'first conditional', 'second conditional' etc are only terms we use to help learners recognise common patterns. They are not more 'normal' in any particular way than any other conditionals. Really, there are only two rules for conditional sentences:

1. The whole conditional sentence is either about a real situation or a hypothetical situation; you cannot mix a real condition with a hypothetical result or vice-versa.

2. The result must follow (in terms of time) the condition. This is more a law of physics than language, but obviously results come after conditions in time, not before. In other words, you cannot have a past result of a future condition – that would require time travel!

 

With these two rules you can create all sorts of sentences. For example:

If their child is naughty, they are angry. [real general present time]

If their child were naughty, they would be angry. [unreal general present time]

If I was naughty as a child, my parents were angry. [real general past time]

If their child is naughty at the party, they'll be angry. [real specific future time]

If their child were naughty at the party, they would be angry. [unreal specific future time]

These are just a few examples. Note that sometimes the same form can have different uses. For example, the third and fifth examples here have the same verb forms: if + past > would verb, but the meanings are different. Only the context tells us whether we are talking about unreal general past time or unreal specific future time.

 

In answer to your question, both answers are grammatically possible. The ownership could be only in the past or could be still true today. There is no way to know without knowing the wider context.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi
The answer is b, If I had saved money, I would own this house.
coz the result in the present time accordingly, it's a mixed condition
Thanx hope I have help

Submitted by OstapBen on Wed, 28/06/2023 - 10:47

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Hi Kirk Moore, Jonathan R, Peter M.
Hope you're doing great!

Please point on the right answer and explain your choice
"If I ... her before, I would have recognised her.
A) saw;
B) would see;
C) see;
D) had seen."

Hello OstapBen,

D is the correct answer. It forms a third conditional structure, which is talks about an imaginary past event, that is, an event that did not happen.

None of the other options form sentences that make sense. Some people might say A, but strictly speaking, it's not grammatically correct.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by User_1 on Mon, 12/06/2023 - 14:36

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Hello,
I would ask you about Mixed conditionals.
Overall, I have figured out when mixed conditionals are being used,
but it is not so easy to practise and become familiar with them.
Could you give me any suggestions to use them better and with confidence?
Thanks for help.

Hello User_1,

BBC Learning English have a useful masterclass on mixed conditionals that I'd recommend having a look at. I especially like the 'Session Grammar' box on the right side of the page. If you follow some of the links on that page, you'll find other pages with some practice exercises that might be useful.

But in general, I think the best thing to do is pay attention for sentences with 'if' in them as you read in and listen to English, especially when mixed forms are used. See if you can make sense of them and if you think there's any other way to use them. If you make a note of any such sentence, you're welcome to ask us about it. Or if you have any other specific questions, please let us know.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team