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: 4.1 (88 votes)

Hello Rexafo,

I think 'would have' is needed here as we are talking about a result rather than any kind of advice.

You can use 'should have' in this kind of construction as a way of expressing logical deduction:

If she had taken the bus she should have been here by now, so presumably she chose to walk.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Khalid Bashir on Fri, 17/03/2023 - 17:34

Permalink

Dear Sir, please explain the following line, I did not understand.

"Present/Past"
Here's a sentence imagining how a different situation in the present would mean that the past was different as well.

Helo Khalid Bashir,

The sentence which is given as the example is this:

It's really important. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have called you on your holiday.

It shows how the speaker can use a present tense form (being really important) to explain why something was done in the past (calling the other person). It seems a little counter-intuitive that a present situation can explain a past action, but once you realise that the present tense here does not describe an action or state now but rather something that is generally true: the situation was important yesterday, is important today and will be important tomorrow.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by abhaykumar on Sat, 18/02/2023 - 07:11

Permalink

Dear Teacher,

Could you please help clear up my confusion on this. Whats the difference in meaning between these two sentences :

1. The ball didn't turn as much as he thought.
2. The ball didn't turn as much as he would have thought.

Thanks in advance !

Regards,
Abhay

Hello Abhay,

The first sentence tells us that the person formed an erroneous opinion. I'm guessing the context here is cricket, so we can imagine that the person is a batsman facing a spinner. He expects a certain degree of turn and is surprised that the ball does not deviate so much. This sentence tells the story of an error by the batsman.

The second sentence introduces a hypothetical or speculative sense. We don't know if the batsman thought about it, but the speaker is speculating that if he had thought about it then he would have expected more turn. This sentence could have a more general meaning as well: it could be about the expectations of the team captain before the match (at the coin toss), when the captain is trying to assess the pitch. In that case it would have the sense of '...as much as he would have thought when he made his decision to bat first'.

 

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Peter.

You are right that cricket is the context here :)

I understood the difference but I still have some doubt on "would have" usage. I have seen this construct being used for different sentences having different meaning. For example :
1. "Had I had enough time, I would have completed the task" - So here task was not completed for sure.
2. "He would have been very nervous before his speech" - Here we are not sure if he was nervous or not ( AM I right ?). If I am right then this somewhat contradicts with above example of "would have" where we know for sure that task was not completed.
3. Indirect form of "He said, he will have done it by evening" is "He said he would have done it by evening " -> so here we are just reporting directly what a person said. Does this "would have" have different meaning ?

Thanks again!

Regards,
Abhay

Hello again abhaykumar,

1. That's right. This sentence describes a hypothetical past, as you say: I didn't have enough time, so I didn't complete the task.

 

2. Yes, that's right. The speaker here is speculating about how he felt. It has a similar meaning to 'I expect that...' This use does not contradict the first sentence; rather it represents a different use altogether. Remember that each modal verb can express multiple meanings (e.g. could can express past ability, present speculation, present possibility etc) and the same meaning can be expressed by multiple verbs (possibility can be expressed by could, may, might etc).

 

3. The shift from will to would here is not about the modal verb but the context of the reported speech. We can leave the very in the original form if he statement is still true. For example:

She said she loves me. [she loved me when she said it and she loves me now]

She said she loved me. [she loved me when she said it; we don't know (from the sentence) if she loves me now]

Thus, 'He said he will have done it by evening' tells me that it is not yet evening; the statement is still true. On the other hand, 'He said he would have done it by evening' does not contain this information. It may not yet be evening and it may still be true (possible), or it may already be too late.

 

I'm guessing you're an India fan so congratulations on another fine win over the Aussies :)

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Peter. This really clarified my doubt on this.

And Yes I am Indian fan. Thank you :) - The first question I asked was based on commentary I heard during this match. You are good guesser :)

Submitted by Laura3000 on Tue, 13/12/2022 - 17:09

Permalink

Hi,

Why did we use "wasn't" and not "weren't" in this second conditional sentence?

If his house wasn't so far from the office, he'd bike to work every day.

Thanks

Hello Laura3000,

Both 'was' and 'were' are possible in these sentences. It's an example of the language changing: 'were' used to be much more common but 'was' is becoming more and more popular.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team