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 Peter M. on Tue, 28/05/2019 - 06:17

In reply to by Risa warysha

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Hi Risa warysha, Both forms describe can describe unlikely events, with [if... were to] being a little more formal. However, [if + were to] cannot be used to describe impossible or imaginary situations: > If he offered you money, would you accept = correct (unlikely future) > If he were to offer you money, would you accept = correct (unlikely future) > If I had three heads, I would spent a lot on hats = correct (imaginary situation) > If I were to have three heads, I would spent a lot on hats = not correct (imaginary situation) ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by JessicaAw on Thu, 09/05/2019 - 10:41

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hi teacher, Can you please help me, I can't decide which is correct. (a) She would not talk to you if she was/ were mad at you. (b) You know if David wasn’t/weren't so clumsy, he would not have so many accidents. Many thanks for your kind response.
Hi JessicaAw, Both 'was' and 'were' are possible in each sentence. 'Were' used to be expected in such sentences, but languages change over time and in modern English both forms are commonly used. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Danana on Fri, 12/04/2019 - 09:30

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Dear sir, could you please tell me if we can use such conjunctions as "unless, providing" not only in 1st conditionals but also in 2nd and 3rd. And tell me please if we can also use the mentioned conjunctions and conjunctions supposing, imagine in mixed conditionals- Thank you!
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 13/04/2019 - 07:27

In reply to by Danana

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Hello Danana, We do not use 'unless' or 'providing' with impossible or unreal situations (such as those in what are sometimes called '2nd' and '3rd' conditionals). You can use 'imagine' and 'supposing' to refer to these situations, however: 'Imagine you had gone to the party. How would you feel?' ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team
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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Sat, 23/03/2019 - 20:04

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Excuse me, Is the following structure correct? Is it second or third conditional with the use of the words "last week"? If you listened to last week’s programme, you would have heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees. Thank you.
Hello Ahmed Imam, Yes, the sentence is correct. It's an unusual sentence as it appears to mix real and unreal clauses, but it is possible. ~ The first clause ('If you listened to last week’s programme') describes a real situation; it tells us that the speaker thinks the other person listened to the programme. Normally, we would expect a real result to follow, making the sentence like this: 'If you listened to last week’s programme, you heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees.' This sentence conveys certainty: the speaker is drawing a logical conclusion ('you heard') from an accepted fact ('you listened'). ~ If the speaker wanted to describe an unreal situation then they could have done so: 'If you had listened to last week’s programme, you would have heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees.' Here, the speaker does not think the other person listened, or heard Professor Beech. ~ However, sometimes the situation is less clear. Imagine the speaker believes that the other person listened, but still imagines it is possible for them to have not heard part of the information. In this case, a perfect modal is needed. 'Would have', 'might have', 'could have' and so on are all possible: 'If you listened to last week’s programme, you would have heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees.' 'If you listened to last week’s programme, you might have heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees.' 'If you listened to last week’s programme, you may have heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees.' ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team
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