What Are Third Conditionals?
Conditional sentences are used to indicate that the action in the main clause (the sentence without if) can only take place if a certain condition (in the if clause) is met. Here, we will study the third conditional sentences. Third conditionals are the only conditionals that are about the past. It describes imaginary or hypothetical situations in the past.
When we use third conditionals, we are talking about the result of something that did NOT happen.
We are imagining a different past. For example:
Yesterday, the speaker had an exam and today he is thinking about it. Therefore he's using third conditional. Because he didn't work hard, and he didn't pass the exam and he cannot change the past.
Conditional III: Structure
In reality, I did not remember her number. Therefore, I did not call her. By using third conditional, the speaker is imagining a different past.
You can understand that in fact he ate that spoiled fish.
When the 'if clause' comes first (at the beginning of the sentence) don't forget to put a comma (,) after it. Here is the example.
If you begin your sentence with the main clause, you don't need to put a comma between the two clauses.
Second and Third Conditionals: Comparison
Second and third conditionals both indicate a hypothetical situation, but in third conditional we are imagining a hypothetical situation in the past. While in second conditional, we are imagining a hypothetical situation in the present or future.
Compare these two sentences:
This type of conditional is used for impossible situations, because it never happened. We cannot change the past.
This type of conditional is used for unlikely situations in the present or immediate future. The condition is not impossible, but it is improbable.
Conditional tenses are used to create the main clause of a conditional sentence, which expresses hypothetical or unlikely situations. Modal verbs like could, would, should and might are examples of conditional verbs. Each of these modals indicate a certain meaning:
'Would' is the most common modal verb we use in the third conditional. If he had finished high school, he certainly would have gone to college.
If he had finished high school, maybe he would have gone to college, but we are not certain.
If he had finished high school, he would have been able to go to college.
When we use third conditional, we are talking about the result of something that did NOT happen. In fact, we are imagining a different past.
Here is the structure:
|if clause||past perfect|
|main clause||could/would/should + have + past participle|
|second||we are imagining a hypothetical situation in the present or future.||
|third||we are imagining a hypothetical situation in the past.||