Read the grammar explanation and do the exercise.

Third conditionals and mixed conditionals

Conditionals are sentences with two clauses – an ‘if clause and a main clause – that are closely related. Conditional sentences are often divided into different types.

Third conditional

Third conditional sentences describe the past. They describe something that didn’t happen.

  • If I’d studied harder at school I would have gone to university.

He didn’t study very hard and he didn’t go to university.

  • We wouldn’t have got lost if you hadn’t given me the wrong directions.

She wasn't given the correct directions and she didn't find her way.

  • She might have finished the exam if she’d had more time.

She didn't finish the exam and she didn't have more time.

In third conditional sentences, the structure is usually if + past perfect and would + perfect infinitive (e.g. have done). It’s not important which clause comes first.

Notice that other modal verbs can be used instead of ‘would’ (e.g. ‘could’, ‘might’ ‘may’)

Mixed conditionals

In mixed conditional sentences the time in the ‘if’ clause is not the same as the time in the main clause. There can be various combinations.

  • If he’d gone to university he might have a better job.

He didn’t go to university (past)
He doesn’t have a very good job. (present)
This sentence shows the present consequences of a past action.

  • If I’d won the competition I’d be going to Florida next week.

She didn’t win the competition (past)
She isn’t going to Florida (future)
This sentence shows the future consequences of a past action.

 

Exercise

Comments

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

Could you please explain" would+ verb" Structure? For example, in the sentence: when I was at Istanbul University studying chemistry, I would do research and I would refer to articles10 or 20 years old.
Should I use simple past Instead of"would do" or"would refer"?
Best regards,

Hello MortazaAyabenzer,

Yes, you could replace both forms with the past simple and it would also be correct. In this case, 'would' is not part of a conditional form. It is used here to refer to a habitual past action, which you can read more about on our Past habit page.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I have difficulty with understanding the difference between these two structures" would have+ PP" And" would+verb".For example, in the sentence: these people wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work if it weren’t for the addition of the movie theater. Why the writer has not used ...Would not have the opportunity to work if.....

Hi MortazaAyabenzer,

The difference is as follows:

 

These people wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work if it weren’t for the addition of the movie theater.

This sentence tells us that the people had the opportunity to work in the past, and the speaker is imagining a situation in which this were different. It describes an imaginary past different from the real past. It does not tell us if the people still have the same opportunity in the present or not.

 

These people wouldn’t have the opportunity to work if it weren’t for the addition of the movie theater.

This sentence tells us that the people have the opportunity now, and the speaker is imagining a situation in which this were different. It describes an imaginary present different from the real present.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, Thank you, sir!
I was told that I should use this structure for the imaginary past situation:
These people wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work if it had not been for the addition of the movie theater.
So what is the difference between it and"These people wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work if it weren’t for the addition of the movie theater."

Hi MortazaAyabenzer,

 

Both sentences are possible.

 

If you use the form if it had not been for then the condition is rooted in the past. The addition of the movie theatre was a past event. There may be other events which provide opportunities today, but at that time the addition of the movie theatre was the only thing that gave opportunity.

If you use the form if it weren’t for then you show that the condition is something which is a generally true. It was true in the past and it is still true now.

 

You can see the difference more clearly in these examples:

I wouldn't have been able to cope if she hadn't helped me.

I wouldn't have been able to cope if she weren't so helpful.

In the first sentence (hadn't helped) her help is one action at a particular time in the past. In the second sentence (weren't so helpful), she is generally helpful - now as much as then.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, sir. I'm in an English course. I've got a question about conditional sentence type 2. Is it correct if I use 'was' as tobe for She/He/It? For example;
- If she was my girlfriend, I would kiss her.
- If it was sunny, I'd go picnic.

Because I find my self that 'were' is used by those three subjects mostly. Could you please give me more explanation?

Thank you, sir!

Hello Hakuna Matata,

I would suggest you use the form that your teacher recommends, but I can explain this a bit more. Traditionally, 'were' was the correct verb for any subject in the if-clause of a second conditional construction. Nowadays, however, people often use 'was' when the subject is 'I' or 'he', 'she' or 'it' (as in your sentences). So most people would probably say your example sentences are correct, but some teachers might not.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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