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 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

Submitted by IsaCam on Sat, 25/06/2022 - 21:36

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Thank you so much for the explanation. I have a question related to the conditionals. I read many examples such as: If I wasn't in the middle of a meeting, I'd have called you. I don't understand when I should use "Were" for all. (If I weren't in a meeting... or If she were you).

Hello IsaCam,

This is actually quite an unusual example, but not for the reason you ask!

First, let me answer your question. You can use either was or were here. Both are correct in modern English, though some people feel that were is stylistically preferable.

 

The sentence is interesting because of the verb choice in the if-clause. Take a look at these two options:

  1. If I hadn't been in the middle of a meeting, I'd have called you.
  2. If I wasn't in the middle of a meeting, I'd have called you.

 

In both sentences, the result clause (I would have called you) describes a past action which did not happen. However, in the first sentence (with hadn't been) the condition/situation is also past: the meeting is over at the time of speaking. In the second sentence (with wasn't) the meeting is in present time, so it is still continuing at the time of speaking. In other words, you would use this sentence if the meeting is still ongoing and the other person arrives during it, at which point you explain why you didn't call. It's a very unusual example where the condition is still current though the result is in the past.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again IsaCam,

This use of was/were is in if-clauses to talk about hypothetical present or future situations:

If I was/were a rich man, I'd... [I'm not a rich man]

If she was/were at the meeting, she'd... [she isn't or won't be at the meeting]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by pereza on Wed, 08/06/2022 - 11:04

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Hello BC,

This is bugging me. Is this sentence correct?

“If my mother weren't working, she would be driving to Paris with me.”

To my mind, both actions are progressive since I take it as “happening at the moment”, even though the words “now” or “right now” are left out.
All the examples I have found so far ask for a “would + infinitive” (“she would drive to Paris with me”), so I’m guessing that I’m mistaken.
Thanks for your time and your work! Angela

Hello pereza,

The sentence is fine. In the first clause, the continuous aspect is presumably used because the speaker is talking about an activity in progress rather than a permanent state. You could add a time reference to make it clearer: If my mother weren't working today/this morning/all day...

In the second clause, the continuous form is used because the speaker is presumably in the middle of the journey, as you say. The simple form (she would drive) would be more likely to describe a choice in the future rather than an alternative present.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by parisaach on Wed, 08/06/2022 - 05:15

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hello and thank you for your good lessons.
I am really confused with 2nd ,3rd and mixed conditional sentences. i think they can replaced in man cases.
can you please help me to realize those sentences