Third Conditional

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What is the third conditional?

  • We use the third conditional to talk about the past.

  • We use it to imagine how our lives would be now (in the present) if we had done something differently in the past.

  • For example: If I had become a doctor, I would have gotten more money in my last paycheck.

How do we use the third conditional?

  • We can construct a third conditional sentence by using the following structure:

    • “If” + subject + “had” + past participle + subject + “would have” + past participle.

    • If she had asked him, he would have said yes.

    • If he hadn’t studied, he wouldn’t have gotten an A.

  • We can also switch the first and second halves of the sentence and the meaning stays the same.

    • Subject + “would have” + past participle + “if” + subject + had + past participle.

    • He would have said yes if she had asked him.

    • He wouldn’t have gotten an A if he hadn’t studied.

One more thing…

We can also construct questions about someone’s past to elicit a third conditional response:

  • What if you had gone to the party?

  • What if you hadn’t decided to become a lawyer?

Activity

I. Fill in the blanks using the third conditional

  • If she _________ (not/be) here, he ___________(not/survive).

  • If we __________(got) married, we ___________ (save) more money.

  • They __________ (not/go) to the doctor if he __________(not/live) so close.

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