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.





Thanks for correcting the phrase using a conditional form (hypothetical situation in the past)

The one I wrote uses the conditional perfect progressive tense, is there a section on this site that touch this topic? I would like to know how to form a sentence using the main clause in the mentioned tense and a subordinated clause in a different one.

Thanks again

Hello MayelaM,

The difference is the same as that between simple and progressive forms in any context: the progressive forms shows an action in progress and, therefore, incomplete.

If I had been winning in the preliminaries...  [the election was not yet finished; I was leading]

If I had won in the preliminaries...  [the election was finished; I was the winner]

This is the only page we have on this topic.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, which conditional is this sentence :If you can’t repair your headphones, you night need new ones.?


Hi carnations,

This is an example of a first conditional form. The if-clause has a present verb ('can't') and the result-clause has a future form. We can use 'might' instead of 'will' in this clause, with a less certain meaning.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Although interlinking of rivers will help to tackle drought, the government has not paid much attention to this project.
Although interlinking of rivers will help tackling drought, the government has not paid much attention to this project.
are both sentences correct?
if not ,why not?


Had it not been raining so heavily, we would have surely gone for a picnic to the hill station.
Is this correct??
in which conditional does it belong 1/2/3/mixed?
If not in any of them, Sir don't you think categorisation of conditional sentences in these 5 groups do not cover complete expression in english language.

Hello again innocentashish420,

This sentence is clearly a third conditional – the past perfect continuous is still a past perfect form.

The grammar on our site is not intended to completely describe how English works. I'm not sure anyone has ever successfully done that. In any case, our grammar is a learner's grammar, meaning that it is intended to help you learn to use English in most situations. Even then, it does not cover all uses, though the sentence you ask about is covered here.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team