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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Thank you so much. what about the following sentence? Is it also real conditionals? - If you listened to last week’s Natural World, you would know that we had a lot of unanswered questions about trees. Thank you.
Hello Ahmed Imam, It's very hard to answer these questions without knowing the context as there are too many possibilities. I think, to be honest, you are approaching it the wrong way round. Rather than presenting sentences without context, tell us what you want to say (explain the situation) and we will be happy to suggest how you might express yourself. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team
It's a tape script in our book in Egypt. Presenter: Hello. If you listened to last week’s Natural World, you would know that we had a lot of unanswered questions about trees. So this week, we have invited Professor Jeremy Beech to answer these and other questions about trees. Welcome to the programme, Professor. Prof. Beech: Hello. Presenter: Can we have our first question, please? Female caller: Hello, I’d like to ask the professor about the tallest tree in the world. Where is it and how tall is it? ................... But in another tape script in the same book Presenter: If you listened to last week’s programme, you would have heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees. I’m sure that, like me, you wished that you knew as much about them as he does. Today, we welcome Professor Beech back to talk about forests. Professor, could you start by telling us about the different kinds of forests? Prof. Beech: Yes, let me explain. Well, as we all know,.................................. Thank you
Hello Ahmed Imam, The time of each action is different: ' would have heard...' refers to an action which took place in the past (hearing). ' would know...' refers to a state true in the present (knowing). I hope that clarifies it for you. ~ Please note that we generally do not provide explanations for material from elsewhere. We're happy to explain the information on our own pages, or to answer more general questions about the language where we can, of course. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team
Peter Sir This is a new revelation from you; you say that past tense in if clause could mean real past - contrary to what we have been reading till now that past tense in if clause always means unreal or unlikely present or future, and so we have been judging some sentenses wrong on the basis of present condition and past result. How do we judge if the past tense in if clause is for real past or unlikely/unreal present or future. Will you help clear the doubt.
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 18:33

In reply to by dipakrgandhi


Hello dipakrgandhi

It's great to see that you are reading through our comments so carefully. I'm sorry that this is confusing and can see how it must be, but if there's a description somewhere that says that the past simple after 'if' always describes an unreal present or future, then it is wrong.

In this case, the phrase 'last week' makes it clear that the past is being talked about. Sometimes it won't be clear from one sentence alone; you might need to look in the previous or following sentences or even paragraphs to accurately discover the contextual information that will allow you to understand a statement.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team


Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Sat, 16/03/2019 - 18:59

"She would have been fine provided that she’d worn sun cream." Is this sentence correct or we should replace "provided that" with "if"? Thank you.
Hello Ahmed Islam Normally, 'provided that' is not used in hypothetical or imaginary sentences. In this case, 'would have been' and 'had worn' clearly refer to a past imaginary situation, so it doesn't really work here. I would recommend you use 'if'. Otherwise, the sentence is perfect. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Achmad Shocheb on Tue, 12/03/2019 - 09:24

'If she had not lent me an umbrella I wouldn't go to the school' Is my sentence right? And could you explain why we don't need to put a comma after the fisrt clause? I think, we did it at previous conditionals.

Hello Achmad Shocheb

Yes, that is grammatically correct. It means she lent you an umbrella and that you are going to school, but that you would not if you didn't have the umbrella.

If you wanted to speak about how you went to school (in the past), then you'd have to change it to: 'If she had not lent me an umbrella, I wouldn't have gone to school'. But I assume that is not the meaning that you want to express here.

You're right, there should be a comma after the word 'umbrella'. In a couple of the example sentences above, the comma was missing, but I have fixed this. Thanks for pointing it out!

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team