Conditional III for intermediate learners

Conditional III indicates an impossible, hypothetical and unreal condition in the past and its probable result in the past. To learn about them, start reading!

advanced
"Conditional III" in English Grammar

What Are Third Conditionals?

The third conditional is a form of the hypothetical statement that is used to talk about an unfulfilled dream, wish, or some event that did not happen in the past.
It is as if we are describing or imagining a different version of the past. Take a look at the examples below:

If I had gone to the university, I would've been able to study and make progress in my favorite field.

Here in this example, the statement is about the time he/she wished to go to the university and study but it has been left unfulfilled.

If she had supported you, you could have become a famous singer.

Structure

The structure of the third conditional is:

Tip!

If you want to change the statement to a negative one, remember to add not before have in the sentence.

If I had gone to music school, I wouldn't have become a literature professor at the university.

Note that wouldn't have is the short from of would not have.

If they had done their homework completely, the teacher couldn't have blamed them.

Punctuation

Whenever you put the 'if clause' first, remember to add a comma between the two clauses.

If he had bought that car, He could've turned rich by now.

If you want to state the main clause first, there is no need to add commas in between the two sentences.

She should've called the police if she had heard a mysterious noise.

Uses

This type of hypothetical statement is used when we want to talk about an unreal situation that could happen in the past but did not or it's a dream that was not fulfilled.

If she had shouted louder, I could've rescued her.

Here as you can see, we are talking about an unreal past event.

If they had worked properly, the manager wouldn't have become so angry.

Second Conditionals vs. Third Conditionals

The main difference between these two structures is that the third conditional form is used when we want to talk about a different version of the past. Something that could happen but did not, in the second conditional sentence, we talk about an unreal situation in the present or in the future.
Compare the following examples:

If she had gone to school, she could've written the letter.

Here as you can see, we are talking about regretting something in the past.

If they bought that car, they could go to Istanbul next week.

In this example, there is a possibility to happen in the future.

Also, these two structures differ. In the second conditional, we use simple past + would/could/should, but in the third conditional, the structure is past perfect + would/could/should + have + the past participle form of the verb.

Notice the difference in the following examples:

If they had practiced before their class, the teacher wouldn't have blamed them so severely.

If I went to church, I would be religious by now.

Comments

You might also like

Zero Conditional

'If you don't eat or drink, you die'. 'If you heat water, it boils'. Zero conditional is used to talk about facts or situations which are always true.

Conditional I

We use the conditional Type 1 when we want to talk about situations we believe are real or possible in the future. 'If I study hard, I'll pass the exam.'

Conditional II

Type 2 conditional sentences talk about situations that are hypothetical. There is a possibility that the condition will be fulfilled.

Mixed Conditional

Sometimes the two parts of a conditional sentence refer to different times. This is called a mixed conditional. Ready to learn?

Download LanGeek app for free