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

Average: 4.2 (56 votes)
Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.

Hello Ahmed Imam

I'm afraid none of these options is ideal. What would make most sense to me would be 'save'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Momonoki on Wed, 30/01/2019 - 18:52

Permalink
Dear Peter, Thank you for the answer. Perhaps my way of asking the question wasn't right. I intended to ask that there are any other situations or explanation of using Third conditional other than something that didn't happen as this email was sent by a British speaker. With your example made me understand how to use Third conditional. Momonoki

Submitted by Momonoki on Sat, 26/01/2019 - 16:41

Permalink
Dear Kirk and Peter, I am wondering these sentences below using WOULD HAVE BEEN are correct or not. 'However, from the 9th February for two weeks is not convenient for us as we are away. I know this would have been your half term break but is unfortunate perhaps you can suggest some alternative dates later on. ' I would write 'I know this is your half term break' instead of using WOULD HAVE BEEN, because the half term won't change whether he could make it or not on that day. Or is there any other meaning?

Hello Momonoki,

It is possible to use 'would have been' the action changes and what 'would have been' is no longer true. For example, if I ask someone to work during their holiday then I can say 'I know it would have been your holiday' because coming in to work stops it from being a holiday. However, with your example I cannot tell if this would be the case as I do not know the full context.

Please note that we do not generally correct sentneces like this. We're happy to answer questions relating to our own materials or questions about specific language points, but we don't check and correct users' emails and so on.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user wisefool

Submitted by wisefool on Sun, 06/01/2019 - 10:31

Permalink
Hi..Consider a situation.. A mother is asking her son "If you don't come home, I will kill you" here killing her son is hypothetical. Can we use 'would' instead of 'will' ? "If you don't come home, I would kill you" which one is correct? Thank you

Hi wisefool

Using 'would' in that situation would not be grammatically correct in standard British or American English. If you changed 'don't' to 'didn't', however, then 'would' would be appropriate instead of 'will'. See Conditionals 1 for more on these two forms (first and second conditional).

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Fri, 04/01/2019 - 06:29

Permalink
Could you please help me? In this country, the rain falls/pours mostly near the coast. In the last sentence, can we use either word? If so, is there a difference? Some teachers say that "pour" must be "pour down", what is correct? In this country, the rain (falls - pours) mostly near the coast. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

'Falls' is the normal word here. We use 'pours' to describe rainfall which is heavier than what is normal. Since your sentence is talking about what is normal or typical, 'pours' would not really fit.

You can use both 'pours' and 'pours down' with, I think, no change in meaning.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by jiyi on Wed, 02/01/2019 - 12:18

Permalink
Dear teachers, Happy New Year 2019. Wish U all a blessful new year. I would like to ask about this sentence: "If the transportation is lower, the price of the merchandise will obviously become less expensive and more people could afford it" My questions are : 1. I want to clarify this: did this sentence use "..could afford.." (past tense) instead of "..can afford.." to suggest less certainty? 2. The sentence uses both "..will obviously..." ( in the middle of the sentence) and also "..could afford.." (the last part of the sentence). I am not sure if using two different tenses like this in a sentence is correct? or should I better change "..will obviously.." (present tense) to "..would obviously..." (past) to synchronize it with the "..could afford.." (past)? A friend of mine who is a native speaker said to me that I don't have to. But why? Please help. Thank you.

Hello jiyi

Thank you -- we also wish you a happy 2019! Although I wouldn't say this sentence is incorrect, I think it would be clearer if it were changed to one of the following:

  1. If the cost of transportation were lower, the merchandise would obviously become less expensive and more people could afford it.
  2. If the cost of transportation is lower, the merchandise will obviously become less expensive and more people will be able to afford it.

I hope this helps you.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team