You are here

Conditionals 2

Do you know how to use third and mixed conditionals?

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

Language level

Intermediate: B1
Upper intermediate: B2


Peter made a mistake and he told John about it. John kept the secret for some time. Presently, John tells Mary about it. In this context, do I use conditional 2 or 3:

He knew, if they found out, they would fire him


He knew, if they had found out, they would have fired him

Hello gsg238

Who tells whom and when is irrelevant here as 'he' in your sentences is speculating about the situation.

The first example (found out - would fire) is about the future. He is concerned about a possible, if unlikely, act by his employer in the future.

The second example (had found out - would have fired) is about the past. In this example, he is sure that they do not know as he has not been fired. This sentence means in effect the following: they did not find out because otherwise I would not have a job now.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Are the following two sentences correct? If so, what is the difference between them?
- If I am checking the report, I don't answer any calls.
- If I am checking the report, I won't answer any calls.
Thank you.


Hi Ahmed Imam,

Yes :) Both sentences are correct. Their meanings are very similar.

Both sentences mean that this person typically or normally does this. One meaning of will/won't is typical or normal behaviour (see this page for more examples).

But the second sentence has another possible meaning: it could refer to the future. It could be about tomorrow, for example.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello The LearnEnglish Team,
I would be really grateful if you could help me understand why first conditional has been used here:
If your friends do not arrive by five, we will leave without them.
Why does this situation need to be in first conditional? I think this should be in zero conditional.

Hello BobMux,

The form if + present (then) + present is used for general statements rather than particular situations. In your example, you are talking about a particular situation, so if + present (then) + will is the correct choice.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello The LearnEnglish Team!
I would like to know which conditional is the following sentence:
If athletes today did not take their training so seriously, they would not have broken so many recordsi in recent years.

Hello BobMux,

That's the second type of mixed conditional explained on the page above.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot Mr Kirk,
Could you help me understand it better again?
In the main clause, does this words " they would not have broken so many records in recent years" mean that they have broken many records for some years in reality, actually?