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 MariaMafalda on Wed, 15/08/2018 - 18:24

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Hi everyone @TheLearnEnglishTeam. I thought I knew all the rules related to conditional sentences until I came across the following sentence uttered by a native speaker (a very famous native speaker, by the way). This is the sentence: "If we didn’t build the public infrastructure in the early 20th century to support mass electrification, only the wealthy would have had heat and running water". My question is: shouldn´t he have started the "if" clause using "If we hadn´t built". This would make more sense to me. Am I wrong? Thank you for your kind reply. Cheers!

Hi MariaMafalda,

Yes, 'if we hadn't built' is the most correct form here. As you can see, native speakers do make mistakes, particularly when speaking spontaneously, in which people often change structures in mid-sentence.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MortazaAyabenzer on Sun, 08/07/2018 - 19:38

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In this lesson: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/b1-b2-grammar/past-habits-used-to-would-and-the-past-simple What do you mean by saying that "However, only ‘used to’ is possible when we talk about past states."I think we basically use "would" for past habits. Could you please explain it more and give more example? Best

Hello MortazaAyabenzer,

This use of 'would' is not uncommon, but we also use 'used to' and the past simple quite often, probably more often than 'would' in fact. I think you might find the explanation of 'used to' and 'would' on this Cambridge Dictionary page useful and would recommend that to you. If you have any other questions after that, we're happy to help, but please make them about a specific sentence or pair of sentences if possible.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MortazaAyabenzer on Sun, 08/07/2018 - 17:48

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Could you please explain" would+ verb" Structure? For example, in the sentence: when I was at Istanbul University studying chemistry, I would do research and I would refer to articles10 or 20 years old. Should I use simple past Instead of"would do" or"would refer"? Best regards,

Hello MortazaAyabenzer,

Yes, you could replace both forms with the past simple and it would also be correct. In this case, 'would' is not part of a conditional form. It is used here to refer to a habitual past action, which you can read more about on our Past habits page.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MortazaAyabenzer on Fri, 06/07/2018 - 19:05

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Hi, I have difficulty with understanding the difference between these two structures" would have+ PP" And" would+verb".For example, in the sentence: these people wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work if it weren’t for the addition of the movie theater. Why the writer has not used ...Would not have the opportunity to work if.....

Hi MortazaAyabenzer,

The difference is as follows:

 

These people wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work if it weren’t for the addition of the movie theater.

This sentence tells us that the people had the opportunity to work in the past, and the speaker is imagining a situation in which this were different. It describes an imaginary past different from the real past. It does not tell us if the people still have the same opportunity in the present or not.

 

These people wouldn’t have the opportunity to work if it weren’t for the addition of the movie theater.

This sentence tells us that the people have the opportunity now, and the speaker is imagining a situation in which this were different. It describes an imaginary present different from the real present.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, Thank you, sir! I was told that I should use this structure for the imaginary past situation: These people wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work if it had not been for the addition of the movie theater. So what is the difference between it and"These people wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work if it weren’t for the addition of the movie theater."