What Are Third Conditionals?
The third conditional is a type of hypothetical statement that is used to talk about a past event or situation that did not actually happen or was not fulfilled. It is often used to describe an unfulfilled dream or wish. In a third conditional sentence, it's as if we are describing or imagining a different version of the past had things been different.
Third Conditional: Structure
Like other conditional sentences, the third conditional consists of an 'if-clause' and a main clause that expresses the result of the condition. The structure of the third conditional is as follows:
To change a third conditional statement to a negative one, add 'not' after the auxiliary verb 'have' in the sentence. Take a look a the examples:
Note that wouldn't have is the contracted from of
However, if the main clause is placed at the beginning of the sentence, there is no need to add commas between the two clauses.
She should've called the police
The third conditional is used to talk about a hypothetical or unreal situation that did not happen in the past. It is often used to describe a dream or wish that was not fulfilled, or a situation that could have happened differently had certain conditions been met.
Here, we are talking about an unreal past event.
Second Conditionals vs. Third Conditionals
The main difference between the second and third conditional structures is that the third conditional is used to talk about a hypothetical or unreal situation in the past that did not actually happen. On the other hand, the second conditional is used to talk about an unreal situation in the present or future that is unlikely to happen.
Here, we are talking about regretting something in the past.
In this example, there is a possibility to happen in the future.
Also, with regards to structure, the second conditional uses simple past + would/could/should, but the third conditional consists of past perfect + would/could/should + have + the past participle form of the verb.
Compare the following examples:
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'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.
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.'
Type 2 conditional sentences talk about situations that are hypothetical. There is a possibility that the condition will be fulfilled.