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 anna from germany on Mon, 30/03/2020 - 21:09

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Hi, could you please tell me the rule why ' If ' and 'could' never are used in the if-clause, e.g. If I could travel the world, I would. Thank you so much! Greetings from Germany, Anna

Hello Anna

I'm not familiar with that rule. The rule doesn't sound correct to me and in fact your example sentence is correct!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by wcyam10 on Fri, 20/03/2020 - 05:23

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Dear sir, for the following question, can the answer be "wouldn't miss" instead of "wouldn't have missed" If my train had been on time, I _____ my meeting. won't miss wouldn't miss wouldn't have missed Also referring to below, why the correct answer is "wouldn't have met" instead of "wouldn't meet" My parents _____ if my grandmother hadn't left Ireland. wouldn't meet wouldn't have met won't meet Thank you.

Hello wcyam10

No, in the first case, the only option that is grammatically correct is 'wouldn't have missed'. The sentence speaks of an unreal past time (i.e. something that didn't happen) and a conditional perfect ('wouldn't have missed') to express this.

In the second case, only 'wouldn't have met' is correct for the same reason. The sentence speaks of an unreal past: a past in which my grandmother did not leave Ireland. But she did leave Ireland, so what the sentence speaks of is something 'unreal' or 'hypothetical' or imaginary.

Hope this helps make sense of it.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Then how is this correct? - "If I hadn't got the job in Tokyo, I wouldn't be with my current partner." Please explain.

Hello Chekytan,

The sentence you asked about is an example of the first type of mixed conditional (Past/Present) mentioned in the explanation above. The 'if'-clause speaks about an unreal past condition (i.e. about a past situation that is only imaginary because I did get the job in Tokyo) and an equally imaginary present situation (in which I am with my current partner).

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir, In this trail-conversation, you explained to ‘wcyam10’ that we can only use third conditional if the sentence speaks of an unreal past. Here in this case also the sentence speaks of an unreal past. Can you please explain what is the different between the examples provided by wcyam10 and I, and how to know we need to use either third conditional or mixed conditional? Thank you for your support.

Hello CHEKYTAN,

An unreal past condition can have an unreal past result or an unreal present result. For the former, we use would have + verb3; for the latter, we use would verb.

For example:

If I hadn't missed the train, I wouldn't have been late for the meeting.

(unreal past condition, unreal past result)

If it hadn't rained, I wouldn't be running for the meeting now.

(unreal past condition, unreal present result)

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter, I understand it now. Thanks for the help.
Hi The first sentence seems to express regret for having missed the meeting which was ended at the moment you are speaking that is why the last proposition is right Same with your parents they met each other in the past therefore you can't say " wouldn't meet " which expresses a present or futur result