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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Hello Dan.hilton,

I'm afraid this isn't the sort of help we can provide. We're happy to explain points on our own pages which are not clear, or sometimes to explain aspects of the language which puzzle our users. Howeverr, we do not deal with tasks from elsewhere which may be part of another course, a test or come from homework.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you! I understand you perfectly. The task isn't part of another course, a test or homework. I actually took the sentence from yours above, made more sentences from it, but after going through all I've been totally confused if WASN'T in (4) is acceptable assuming the speaker don't know what the reality was or the speaker is referring to the unlikely present or future (2nd conditional). I'll be grateful if you let me know your view on this. Thanks.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 26/09/2018 - 06:55

In reply to by Dan.hilton


Hello Dan.hilton,

Sentence 4 expressed the same concept as sentence 3. It describles an alternative/hypothetical present situation. It does not refer to a particular act, but makes a general statement.

3) He wouldn't be able to cope if she didn't help him.
4) He wouldn't be able to cope if she wasn't so helpful to him.

In both sentences we understand that

  • she does help him / she is helpful to him
  • because of this he is able to cope

and therefore

  • if she did not help him / if she was not helpful to him
  • then he would not be able to cope



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hakuna Matata on Sat, 12/05/2018 - 17:16

Hello, sir. I'm in an English course. I've got a question about conditional sentence type 2. Is it correct if I use 'was' as tobe for She/He/It? For example; - If she was my girlfriend, I would kiss her. - If it was sunny, I'd go picnic. Because I find my self that 'were' is used by those three subjects mostly. Could you please give me more explanation? Thank you, sir!

Hello Hakuna Matata,

I would suggest you use the form that your teacher recommends, but I can explain this a bit more. Traditionally, 'were' was the correct verb for any subject in the if-clause of a second conditional construction. Nowadays, however, people often use 'was' when the subject is 'I' or 'he', 'she' or 'it' (as in your sentences). So most people would probably say your example sentences are correct, but some teachers might not.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by omar123 on Fri, 04/05/2018 - 13:34

if it were up to me i would have killed you a long time ago ??? correct

Hello omar123,

Yes, that is a correct sentence - though it needs capitalisation.



The LearnEnglish Team

If clause verb tense : simple past ( it were ) which means that Main clause verb tense should be (would + infinitive ) while in the example that i gave we have (would + present perfect) and please can you explain more capitalisation

Hello omar123,

The conditional is a mixed conditional. The first part refers to a general hypothetical condition and the second refers to what you would have done in the past if the condition were true. It's similar to this example:

If I were a more ambitious person I would have chosen to become a politician, not a teacher.

The condition is a statement about my character which is about all time. The result is a statement of how I would have behaved in my past, given that condition.

In both sentences you could use a past perfect: If it had been up to me and If I had been a more ambitious person. In this case the condition is placed in the past and refers to one moment in the past. By using the past simple ( were up to me... and ...I were...) the condition is made more general and applies to all time.


Capitalisation refers to the use of capital letters. A sentence needs to start with a capital letter, not a small letter, and the first person pronoun I is always capitalised.



The LearnEnglish Team