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)

Hello call_me_Margo,

I'm not sure I'd really call this sentence a conditional, but given that 'will' is used in the main clause, I'd choose first over zero if I had to.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by cchenjl on Sun, 21/04/2024 - 11:05

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Not sure if my understanding is correct. 

If + past perfect is to describe the different past. 

would have + past participle is to describe the different results in the past.

If + past simple is to describe present/future what we might possibly do.

would + infinitive give possible results that will happen in the present or future. 

Then we can match them as needed to construct a mixed conditional

Submitted by cchenjl on Thu, 18/04/2024 - 16:24

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How do I determine whether to use the third conditional or mixed conditional past/present? For example: If I'd bought that flat then, it _____ worth a lot of money now.  The sentence imagines a different past either a past change with a result in the present.

Hello cchenjl,

Every conditional sentence has two parts: the condition (the if clause) and the result (the result clause). They must both agree in terms of being about a real/likley/possible situation or an unreal/unlikely/impossible situation, so you cannot mix a real if clause with an unreal result. Second, they must be logical in terms of the sequence of events, so if the condition is in present time you cannot have a past result.

In your example, the condition is past and unreal, so the result can be past and unreal (would have), present and unreal (would) or future and unreal (also would). However, the lexis used also has an effect and you have the word 'now' in the result clause. 'Now' limits your options to the present, so only a present form is possible:

If I'd bought that flat then, it would be worth a lot of money now.

If a different time reference is used then a past result is possible:

If I'd bought that flat then, it would have been worth a lot of money after just a couple of years.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user HelloThere

Submitted by HelloThere on Sun, 14/04/2024 - 18:31

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Dear team,

I've been confuse with would have or could have.

I didn't tell her anything. She would not have liked it.

Can I use could not have as I think it was possible in the past?

Hello HelloThere,

The sentence here is making a prediction about an alternative past and your option are would not have, might not have or may not have.

Could not have would mean that something was not possible rather than something being possible. For example: Paul didn't go to the meeting so he could not have talked to her [talking to her was not possible].

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you sir ,

I've learnt that 'Could have' means past possibilities but 'would have' means imaginary past. But it somehow makes me think they are the same. Past possibilities and imaginary past made me think they are the same. 

 In this,

He is lucky. He would have hurt himself.

He is lucky. He could have hurt himself.

Is there any way to spot the difference between them? 

Hello HelloThere,

In this case, would implies a certain past result if the condition is met:

He is lucky. If he had tried to fix the machine he would have hurt himself. [hurting himself was certain if he tried to fix it]

However, could describes a possibility which is not certain:

He is lucky. If he had tried to fix the machine he could have hurt himself. [hurting himself was a possibility (not 100% certain) if he tried to fix it]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ganecia on Sun, 07/04/2024 - 23:27

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Hello, team?

May I ask the mixed conditional such as "If I have been eexposed to Covid, what would I do?".

It looks a combination (if  +  present perfect , S would verb).

Which conditiinal format could be applicable and how to interpret?

Thank you very much 😊