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

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Submitted by Robertas on Fri, 02/09/2022 - 00:05

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Hi,
I don't understand.
Why we can use this example below if we can use second conditional in this same example below:
"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."

Please explain what is difference. Thank you in advance.
Regards,
Robertas

Hi Robertas,

The second conditional can't express the same meaning as this sentence, because its timeframe is different. I'll try to explain.

  • If I hadn't got the job in Tokyo, I wouldn't be with my current partner.

In this example, the condition is an unreal past condition, i.e., something different to what actually happened in the past (If I hadn't got the job in Tokyo - it means that I actually did get the job in the past, and I'm imagining how my life now would be different if I hadn't got it).

The second conditional is different because the condition is not about something that actually happened in the past. It's about something that may happen in the present or future. For example:

  • If I got the job, I'd move to Tokyo.

This means I'm imagining getting the job in the present or future (and that I consider it unlikely or even impossible). It does not mean that I got the job in the past.

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Yes. Past simple tense in second conditional caused confusion when talking about present/future imaginary situation. I missed to check description of 2 conditional and mixed conditional. I guess this is another problem to which I need to adapt because it is some kind of exception for some reason as explained by Peter M. from The LearnEnglish Team.

Submitted by DDW on Mon, 22/08/2022 - 17:02

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Dear Team,
what is the difference between
1.If my granny were alive, she would love to see me graduate.
2.If my granny were alive, she would have loved to see me graduate.
and Is it correct as if I say
If I hadn't got up early, I wouldn't miss my meeting? (I want to emphasis the present result)

Hello DDW,

Both sentences are about unreal (imaginary) situations as the granny is not alive. In sentence 1 the result clause (she would love...) refers to a future event: the speaker has not graduated yet. In sentence 2 the result clause (she would have loved...) refers to a past event: the graduation has already happened.

 

Your other example does not make sense but not because of the grammar. Getting up early should help you to get to the meeting, and not getting up early might make you miss the meeting. Thus the logical sentences would be as follows:

If I hadn't got up early (this morning), I would miss my meeting (this afternoon).

If I had got up early (this morning), I wouldn't miss my meeting (this afternoon).

Both sentences describe an imagined future result of an imagined (alternative) past situation.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Blizzard93 on Sun, 07/08/2022 - 14:08

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Greetings, i have a question, does it grammarly correct;
"Even if that had been true, would that change anthing?"
Thanks a lot

Hello Blizzard93,

Yes, that is the first kind of a mixed conditional mentioned in the explanation above. It speaks about an unreal change in the past ('even if that had been true') that could potentially have an effect in the present ('would that change anything?').

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmaddamerji on Wed, 03/08/2022 - 14:25

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I found this sentence in a general English course books, and I wonder how it is possible to use the second conditional in the main clause and present simple in the result clause

If there was an accident at the power plant, I dread to think of the consequences.

Hi Ahmaddamerji,

Good question! According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the meaning of "dread" is "to feel extremely worried or frightened about something that is going to happen or that might happen", and the meaning of "dread to think" is "to say that you do not want to think about something because it is too worrying". Perhaps from these meanings, it is clear enough that the result clause refers to imagined or hypothetical consequences.

Using "would" is also fine, and doesn't change the meaning, e.g. "I would dread to think of the consequences" or "I dread to think what the consequences would be."

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team