Mixed Conditional in English Grammar

Mixed Conditional in English Grammar

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

Mixed Conditional in English Grammar

Mixed Conditional

A mixed conditional is constructed from type 2 conditionals and type 3 conditionals. One of the clauses is type 2 and one of them is type 3 conditionals.

Mixed Conditional

Mixed conditionals are sentences that combine the second and third conditional together.

Mixed Conditional: Structure

Mixed conditional structure can be:

  1. If + type 2 conditional, type 3 conditional
  2. If + type 3 conditional, type 2 conditional

The number 2 structure is the more common one that is used in mixed conditionals.

If I had taken an aspirin , I wouldn't have a headache now .

If + type 3 , type 2.

Let's have a quick review of what were the second and third conditionals.

Type 2 conditional

It is used to talk about hypothetical or unlikely present or future situations.

  • If + past simple, would + base form

If it wasn't raining outside , I would take the kids to park .

This is hypothetical. It is raining now and it has a result in the present.

If I had 1M dollars , I would buy a house .

This is a hypothetical situation that is very unlikely to happen.

Type 3 conditional

It is used to talk about hypothetical past situations.

  • If + past perfect, would have + past participle

If it hadn't been raining , I would have taken the kids to the park .

If + past perfect, would have + past participle

Mixed Conditional

As we have mentioned earlier, mixed conditionals are created by combination of 2 and 3 conditionals.
Let's see some example of the #1 structure:
If + third conditional, second conditional

If she had won the lottery , she'd be a millionaire now .

The 'if clause' is a hypothetical past situation, and 'she'd be a millionaire now' is the present result of that imaginary past situation.

If I had finished high school , I would be entering college next week .

The 'if clause' is a hypothetical past situation, and 'I would be entering college next week' is the future result of that imaginary past situation.

Now let's see some example of the #2 structure:
If + second conditional, third conditional

If I weren't so scared of snakes , I would have gone to the reptile zoo .

The 'if clause' is a hypothetical present situation with a past result.

If I weren't moving to my new house next month , I would have come to your birthday party .

The 'if clause' is a hypothetical future situation with a past result.

Time and Tense

Mixed conditional help us talk about actions through different time.
Let's talk about the difference between time and verb tense.
We use different tense verbs to talk about different times. But keep in mind that tense and time are not always the same.

She worked at a hospital .

The verb tense is 'past simple'.

She was working as a nurse .

The verb tense is 'past continuous'.

These two examples do not have the same tense, but they are both referring to the same time, which is past.

Mixed conditionals are sentences that use 2 different times in them. So, the if clause and the main clause in these types of conditionals have different times that work together.

If I had slept earlier , I wouldn't have missed my appointment .

Both the 'if clause' and the 'main clause' have the same time: past. But they have different tenses in the past.

If I had slept earlier , I would be at my appointment now .

The 'if clause' is a clause with past time and the 'main clause' have present time. So this is an example of mixed conditionals.

Mixed Conditionals: Functions

The most common combinations of mixed conditionals are:

Past Action with Present Result

With this type of mixed conditional we are talking about changing a past action and what the hypothetical present result would be. But this result cannot happen, because we cannot change the past.

If I had finished high school , I would be a college student now .

The speaker is not a college student now, but he is talking about a change in past and its result.

We would be getting married if you had said yes .

They are not married now.

Present Condition with Past Result

With this type of mixed conditional we imagine that the present were different. For example if it were different, how the past hypothetically would be different as the result.

If she were more hardworking , she would have succeeded .

She didn't succeed because she was not hardworking enough.

If I weren't injured , I would have played .

I didn't play because I was injured.

Future Action with Past Result

This function is a little more complicated than the other two, so let's explain it with an example. Imagine that you are a soccer player and tomorrow you have an important match. You will probably stay home the night before the match, eat a healthy dinner and try to be well-rested. So you might say:

If I didn't have an important match tomorrow , I would have stayed up late .

I am not staying up late because I have an important match tomorrow.

If he wasn't participating in a match , he would have eaten ice cream after dinner .

He does not eat ice cream because he is participating in a match.

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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.'

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Conditional II

Type 2 conditional sentences talks about situations that are hypothetical. There is a possibility that the condition will be fulfilled, but not very likely.

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Conditional III

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!

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