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.





Thank you for your reply. I have read in some texts, question forms in which "have" is used as an auxiliary verb. Questions like "Have you any brothers or sisters?" or "Have you an appointment?" If we can use "have" as an auxiliary verb , consequently this form of question " How many brothers has David?" can be used.

Hello shadyar,

This use of the verb 'have' without the auxiliary verb 'do' used to be more common, especially in literary or formal contexts, but is difficult to find any more in most varieties of spoken and written English. Nowadays, people still understand it, but in most cases it would sound strange or even affected. I wouldn't recommend using it in general.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,
So finally, the correct version sounds like:'how many brothers does Peter have?', am I right?

All the best,

Hi Mareq,

Yes, that is correct - good work!

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, please let me Know is this form of question right grammatically?"how many brothers has David?"

Hello shadyar,

No, that is not correct. In the present simple, questions are formed using the auxiliary verb do/does: 'How many brothers does David have?'

You can learn about how this works, as well as find examples and exercises, on our present simple page.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sirs
I have a doubt that generally 'to' followed by v¹ ,but sometimes 'to' followed by ,v+ing,
Please explain in detail.I am eagerly waiting your response sir.

Hello Guddu,

'to' is used in different ways. It's often used to form an infinitive (e.g. 'I would like to meet the Dalai Lama' or 'She is said to be a whiz at maths'), but when 'to' is used as a preposition, like all prepositions, it must be followed by a noun phrase (e.g. 'I went to the cinema' or 'He's not used to working at night'). The noun form of a verb is the '-ing' form - that is why 'work' becomes 'working' in the last example sentence.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

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