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 MortazaAyabenzer on Sun, 24/11/2019 - 12:54

hello. in this sentence: If you’ve been paying attention, you might have worked it out. I picked from BBC 6 minute courses. I am confused.because in 3rd conditional we should use past perfect in if part. but here is "have been paying" can you clarify why has he ignored the rule?

Hello MortazaAyabenzer

That is not a third conditional. 'have been paying' is present perfect continuous, which is essentially talking about the present, not an unreal past tense. Thus it's like a first conditional.

Does that help you make sense of it?

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user dipakrgandhi

Submitted by dipakrgandhi on Sat, 16/11/2019 - 16:01

Sir, this is part of news in Indian daily : The state’s Act, if implemented, will allow groups like Deccan Education Society (including Fergusson) to form their own cluster universities. ' If implemented ...' it is in second conditional ; should it not be would( and not will ) in the result clause - like: The state's act,if implemented, would allow groups like Deccan Education Society (including Fergusson) to form their own cluster universities. Regards Dipak Gandhi

Hello dipakrghandhi,

The sentence contains a reduced passive form which could be a present or a past form:

The state's Act, if it is implemented, will allow...

The state's Act, if it were implemented, would allow...

The use of will in the second clause tells us that the speaker is using a likely/real conditional; that is, they consider the situation in the if-clause to be a realistic possibility.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for reply sir. The full form of reduced clause you gave in second sentence : The state's Act, if it were implemented, will allow... here, are we not mixing two conditionals - second conditional in if clause and first conditional in result clause. I know we can mix second and third conditionals but can we also mix second and first. Regards Dipak R Gandhi

Hello again dipakrgandhi,

I'm sorry for the confusion. My example should have read '...would allow...'. When I copied the original fragment from your question I forgot to change the second part. I have corrected the answer now.

We can create all kinds of conditonal structures provided we follow two rules:

1. The sentence must be logical in terms of sequence. In other words, the condition much come before the result in time.

2. The sentence as a whole (that is to say, both clauses) must either refer to a real/likely situation or an unreal/unlikely situation. We cannot mix these.

Thus, if we have an unreal condition ('if it were...') then we must have an unreal result ('...would...').



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Arash Yekta on Fri, 15/11/2019 - 08:59

Hi guys, Is it normal to use "had better" with conditional type two? (the original sentence)If you're not in a hurry ,it would be a good idea to take the hotel shuttle. (making a question using "had better" and conditional type two) What had Jane better take if she were in a hurry?
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Fri, 15/11/2019 - 09:08

In reply to by Arash Yekta


Hello Arash Yekta

Please note that 'had better' is a pretty strong thing to say to someone and so it's a little unusual to use 'had better' in a question about someone else. And if we use this form in a question, it's usually a negative question (follow the link for a detailed explanation).

If you want to use a second conditional, I'd suggest something like 'What would Jane need to take if she were in a hurry?' instead.

Hope this helps.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Wed, 30/10/2019 - 19:58

Hello. Are the two following sentences correct ? What is the difference between them? 1- If I had broken bones like Samy, I would have travelled abroad to be treated there. 2- If I had broken bones like Samy, I would travel abroad to be treated there. Thank you.