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 Asmaa 88 on Sun, 21/05/2023 - 16:38


Can you help me with this please?

We wouldn't get into this miss if we ...................... to the instructions in previous sessions.

A. listened
B. have listened
C. have been listening
D.could have listened

I'm not sure but I guess it's B. It seems to make sense for me.

Hi Asmaa 88,

To be honest, I think the best answer is actually "had listened". The missing words need to show an unreal past action (i.e. in the past, we did not actually listen to the instructions), which is shown by "had listened" in the past perfect. It's similar to the first example (Past/Present) in the Mixed conditionals section above.

Answers A, B and C are possibly acceptable, but they don't show as clearly that "had listened" is actually an unreal action, not a real one.

I hope that helps.


LearnEnglish team

Submitted by noorav on Thu, 06/04/2023 - 11:07



I'm studying to pass an English test in university and I'm struggling with modal remoteness with the perfect tense. In the exercise I need to know if the sentence is open or remote conditional and give counterparts of the opposite category. I understand that the verbs "would", "could" are there to indicate modal remoteness and not the past time so that's why the perfect tense comes along.

I just now found out from the text above that the conditionals can be mixed and that solved one of my problems but not the one in which I need to give the counterpart examples.

I would like to ask how can I make counterparts of these following sentences and still keep the past tense?

"If she hadn't sold her shares she would be very rich."
"If the secretary hadn't called the police someone else would have."
"If Ed has gone on holiday you can stay in his room."
"If Jill didn't report the fault, Max may have."
"If you had finished your work yesterday, you could come with us tomorrow."

Thank you for your help!

Hi noorav,

I'm not very familiar with the terms open and remote conditional, but I think they broadly correspond to the terms second and third conditional that we use on our pages. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

To change from remote past to open past, you'll need to change the past perfect in the main clause to past simple. In the result clause, you'll need to change "would" to "will" (or another verb with open meaning, e.g. "can"). For example: If she didn't sell her shares, she will be very rich (by now). If you finished your work yesterday, you'll be able to come with us tomorrow.

To change from open past to remote past, you'll need to put the main clause verb in the past perfect, and use "would have" (or another verb with remote meaning) in the result clause. For example: If Ed had gone on holiday, you would have been able to stay in his room. (OR: ... could have stayed ...).

I hope that helps.


LearnEnglish team

Submitted by hanieh1315 on Sat, 25/03/2023 - 10:35


Hi .
can you give an example for this structure: if+had+p.p …..should have p.p
should( just for subect i and we)

Hello hanieh1315,

I've thought about this for a few minutes, but I'm afraid nothing that makes sense comes to mind. Is there a specific context for this? Please feel free to send us what you think and we can help you with it. 

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Hello Kirk
How about thi?
I should have bought more things if I had not forgotten to take more money with me.

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.



The LearnEnglish Team

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


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

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.



The LearnEnglish Team