Third Conditional

145 Free English Lessons, 550 Free English Quizzes

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Content
Posts
Pages
Courses
Sections
Lessons
Quizzes
Topic Progress:

Welcome to your Third Conditional lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• When do we use the Third Conditional?
Forming a Third Conditional sentence
“Wish”
Comparing “Would” and “Would Have”
Comparing “Would Have” “Could Have” and “Might Have”
Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

When do we use the Third Conditional?

Last month, James was in hospital for a few days. Marie didn’t know this, so she didn’t go to visit him. They met yesterday, Marie said:

“If I had known you were in hospital, I would have gone to see you.”

The fact that Marie said “If I had known” tells us that she didn’t know.

The third conditional is used to talk about a change in the past:

“If I had known that you were cooking dinner, I wouldn’t have had a burger.”

“I would have gone to the beach if I hadn’t been so tired.”

“If she had been concentrating, she wouldn’t have crashed.”

Compare the second conditional to the third conditional:

“I’m not tired. If I was tired, I would go to bed.”
(2nd Conditional = Now)

“I wasn’t tired. If I had been tired, I would have gone to bed.”
(3rd Conditional = Past)

Forming a Third Conditional sentence

The third conditional  is formed like this:

If + Past Perfect, Modal Verb + (Present Simple / Present Perfect)
or
Modal verb + (Present Simple / Present Perfect) if + Past Perfect

“Would” cannot be used in the “If clause”. “Would” is used in the “main clause”:

If she had been concentrating, she wouldn’t have crashed.”
(Not “If she would have been concentrating, she wouldn’t have crashed.”)

Remember that ‘d can either mean “would” or “had”:

“If I’d seen you I’d have said hello.”
(If I had seen you I would have said hello.)

“Wish”

Have a look at these examples:

“I wish I had known that you were cooking, I wouldn’t have eaten.”

I wish something happened = I am sorry that it didn’t happen.

“I wish I had known that you were coming, I would have cleaned the house!”

“I feel sick, I wish I hadn’t eaten that sushi…”

“Do you wish you had moved to the coast earlier?”

Comparing “Would” and “Would Have”

“If I had drunk another glass last night, I would feel terrible now.”
(I do not feel terrible now)

“If I had drunk another glass last night, I would have been quite ill.”
(I did not feel ill last night)

Comparing “Would Have” “Could Have” and “Might Have”

“If the weather hadn’t been so bad we would have gone hiking.”
(definately)

“If the weather hadn’t been so bad we could have gone hiking.”
(we were able to)

“If the weather hadn’t been so bad we might have gone hiking.”
(it’s possible)

Recap

  • The third conditional is formed: If + past perfect, modal verb + (present simple / present perfect)
  • It is used to talk about a change in the past.
  • “Wish” is often used in third conditional sentences.
  • The present simple and the present perfect can both be used in the “main clause” to talk about when the result of the conditional takes place.
  • “Would have” can be replaced by  “could have” or “might have”, but the meaning changes.

  • Sign up
Lost your password? Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.
We do not share your personal details with anyone.