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 (118 votes)
Profile picture for user WellDmsc

Submitted by WellDmsc on Fri, 28/06/2024 - 16:37

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Hello

Is it incorrect to start a sentence with "hadn't"?

Such as in the following example:

Hadn't we missed the plane, we would all have been killed in the crash.

Hello WellDmsc,

It's not correct to start a sentence like that. However, you can use 'Had... not' like this:

Had we not missed the plane...

(If we hadn't missed the plane...)

The form cannot be contracted and the subject ('we') must come before the negative marker ('not').

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Tony_M

Submitted by Tony_M on Wed, 29/05/2024 - 23:45

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Hello,

Can I use 'would have had to' in the following example?

A friend of mine has recently moved to the Czech Republic. Every time on the phone, he tells me that he has to learn some Czech, but he is okay with that. If he had moved to the UK, he would've had to learn English now. According to him, this language is much more complex, so moving to the Czech Republic was the right decision. 

I wonder whether 'would have had to' conveys the idea of unreality better than just 'would have to' in this example. A mixed conditional like 'If he had moved to the UK, he would have to learn English now' would probably work in this situation, but it sounds just hypothetical, too mild. Can I use 'would have had to' to convey the idea of the complete impossibility of the situation in which my friend had to learn English?

Thank you

Hi Tony_M,

Yes, I entirely agree! "Would have had to" gives a stronger sense of it being far from present reality and no longer possible.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Ama1 on Tue, 28/05/2024 - 19:36

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Hi,

I'm having some trouble knowing when to use the first and second conditional and mixed conditions.

I have read and reread your courses and looked at other websites for several days and this is what I understood but I am not sure that what I understood is correct. So I apologize if my message is long.

Let's imagine that I want to inform my friend that my flight may be delayed and that I may miss my connection.

For the first condition: If the flight is late, we’ll miss our connection.

For the second condition: If the flight was late, we would miss our connection.

how to choose the right condition? What condition should I use with my friend?

From what I understood (correct me if I'm wrong), the choice is made according to our feelings (according to the probability that the condition will occur or not even if it has occurred opposite of what we thought at the beginning)

1- If I think there is a very high probability that the flight will be delayed, then I use the first condition.

2- If I think there is a very low probability that the flight will be delayed, then I use the second condition.

 

Regarding the mixed conditions, from what I understood for 

"1.Past/Present":

1- If there is not a present time marker (current, today,  ....) then I use the third condition (If I hadn't got the job in Tokyo, I wouldn't have be with my partner.)

2- If there is a present tense marker (in your example "current" in the sentence ".... my current partner." then I use the mixed condition "Past/Present" (If I hadn't got the job in Tokyo, I wouldn't be with my current partner.)

For what

"2. Present/Past",

1- If there is not a past time marker (holiday, this morning, yesterday, 5 years ago, ....) then I use the second condition (It's really important. If it wasn't, I wouldn't 't called you )

2- If there is a past time marker (in your example "holiday" in the sentence "....on your holiday" then I use the mixed condition "Present/Past" (It's really important. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have called you on your holiday.)

Tell me what you thin?

Thanks in advance

Hi Ama1,

Generally we ask users to post short, concise questions which focus on one point rather than long questions like this. It's much easier for us to answer with our limited time and also more useful for other users, who can find information much more easily. That said, I'll try to answer your questions.

Let's imagine that I want to inform my friend that my flight may be delayed and that I may miss my connection.

For the first condition: If the flight is late, we’ll miss our connection.

For the second condition: If the flight was late, we would miss our connection.

how to choose the right condition? What condition should I use with my friend?

From what I understood (correct me if I'm wrong), the choice is made according to our feelings (according to the probability that the condition will occur or not even if it has occurred opposite of what we thought at the beginning)

1- If I think there is a very high probability that the flight will be delayed, then I use the first condition.

2- If I think there is a very low probability that the flight will be delayed, then I use the second condition.

Yes, that's all correct.

 

Regarding the mixed conditions, from what I understood for 

"1.Past/Present":

1- If there is not a present time marker (current, today,  ....) then I use the third condition (If I hadn't got the job in Tokyo, I wouldn't have be with my partner.)

2- If there is a present tense marker (in your example "current" in the sentence ".... my current partner." then I use the mixed condition "Past/Present" (If I hadn't got the job in Tokyo, I wouldn't be with my current partner.)

No expicit marker is needed; the choice for the result clause depends on the time of the result. If the result is in the past then a perfect modal [modal verb + have + verb3] is used in the result clause (I wouldn't have met my partner). If the result is in the present then a present modal is used [modal + verb] (I wouldn't be with my partner)

 

For what

"2. Present/Past",

1- If there is not a past time marker (holiday, this morning, yesterday, 5 years ago, ....) then I use the second condition (It's really important. If it wasn't, I wouldn't 't called you )

2- If there is a past time marker (in your example "holiday" in the sentence "....on your holiday" then I use the mixed condition "Present/Past" (It's really important. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have called you on your holiday.)

Again, no marker is needed; it's a question of time. Your first example (It's really important. If it wasn't, I wouldn't call you) describes something which is generally true (you don't call unless it's important) and which is here applied to a specific situation (this call). Your second example (It's really important. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have called you on your holiday) describes a particular phone call without reference to your typical behaviour.

 

I hope that helps to clarify it for you. You seem to have a pretty good grasp of it overall - well done!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Bruno2021 on Sun, 19/05/2024 - 04:51

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Hello teachers , I would like to understand more about the use of the mixed conditionals, especially the one that consists of : (subject + If + simple past + would/could + past participle, how can I internalize the concept of them and which situations should I use one and not the other ? Help me please!

Hello Bruno2021,

To avoid any ambiguity can you give an example of the structure? That way we can address the conceptual questions in concrete rather than abstract terms and make sure we're being as clear as possible.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

For sure Peter , I can give you an example, EX: If we left yesterday, we wouldn’t have got stuck in a traffic jam.

I would like to know how and what situations I should use the structure above in comparison with the other structure: ( If + past participle + would) could you help me and give me some examples? 

Thank you!