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

Tags

Comments

Hello MCWSL,

Sometimes words or even entire phrases are omitted when we think the context is clear enough. So it's as if the sentence were 'I could have lent you some money (if I had known you needed it)' or something similar.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi everyone
I am a student.
Could you tell me which of them is right?
1.If i were a millionaire, i would buy everything which i want to have
2.If i was a millionaire, i would have bought everything which i want to have
Thank you very much

Hi Zhanabek525,

Both of these sentences are possible, but the meaning is different.

In the first clause both 'was' and 'were' are commonly used, and there is no difference in meaning.

In the second clause, using 'would buy' means that the sentence refers to a hypothetical/unlikely present or future action. Using 'would have bought' refers to a past action which did not take place. The meaning here is, in effect, 'I am not a millionaire, and you know this because I would have bought... and I did not.'

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there,

Suppose that I was drunken yesterday night , I don't remember I kissed a girl or not.
I this case,

If I kissed the girl, I would have to apologize to her

Is it right?

Hi bainsoo,

The problem with your sentence is that it mixes real and unreal contexts, and so it not correct. The alternatives would be as follows:

If I had kissed the girl, I would have to apologise to her.  (describing a situation in the past which I do not believe to be true, and a future consequence)

If I kissed the girl, I will have to apologise to her.  (describing a situation in the past which I do believe to be true, and a future consequence)

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I have another question.

I realized that one of my friend was very short of money last year. But he did not asked anything to me. So I say

"Why didn't you ask me to lend you some money at that time?
If I had money, I could have lent you some."

Does it make sense?

Hello bainsoo,

In this situation we would say one of the following:

If I had had money, I could have lent you some. [if you did not have money and are talking about an entirely hypothetical situation]

I had money, I could have lent you some. [if you had money and so the lending was possible]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

OOPs,
I just realize that I asked a stupid question.
Please forget about the latest question.

So, in the second sentense, there shouldn't be "IF" at the beginning of the setense?
Without "IF", can it be hypothetical?

Sorry about the continuing questions.

Which one is right? 1)If I had lots of money ,I would help the poor or 2)If I had lots of money I would have helped the poor.

Pages