When you are talking about something which is impossible, you will need to use the third conditional. This is something which is frequently used in the English language and we can see an example of this in the sentence ‘If I had wings, I could fly.’
In this section, we are going to be examining the third conditional much more closely and gaining a greater understanding of how it is used and why. This will enable you to speak about a wider range of things in a theoretical sense, making your English sound much more fluent.
What Is the Third Conditional?
Learn the third conditional definition and useful rules to use conditional sentences type 3 (Past Unreal Conditional) with structure, usage and example sentences.
Like the other conditionals, a Conditional Sentences Type 3 sentence consists of two clauses, an ‘if‘ clause and a main clause. We use different verb forms in each part of a Conditional Sentences Type 3:
Third Conditional Structure: IF +Past Perfect, Subject + would/could/might + have + Past Participle.
Third Conditional examples:
- If I had got a gold medal, I would have been happy.
- If I had met Susan last week, I would have given her the book.
- If the weather had been good, we would have gone water-skiing.
If the ‘if‘ clause comes first, a comma is usually used. If the ‘if‘ clause comes second, there is no need for a comma.
- We would have gone water-skiing if the weather had been good.
Note also that Conditional Sentences Type 3 forms can be contracted.
- Full form: If you had got up earlier, you would have caught the earlier train.
- Contracted form: If you‘d got up earlier, you would‘ve caught the earlier train.
How to Use the Conditional Sentences Type 3
The Conditional Sentences Type 3 is used to talk about things which did not happen in the past. If your native language does not have a similar construction, you may find this a little strange, but it can be very useful. It is often used to express criticism or regret.
- If Mark had come on time, he would have met them. (Regret)
- If Charlene hadn’t been so careless, she wouldn’t have lost all money. (Criticism)
- If you hadn’t lied, you wouldn’t have ended up in prison. (Criticism)
- If you had asked her, she would have helped you. (Regret)
The Third Conditional | Image
Conditional Sentences – Wish – Unless
- Zero Conditional
- Conditional Sentences Type 1
- Conditional Sentences Type 2
- Conditional Sentences Type 3
- Mixed Conditionals
- How to Use UNLESS
- How to Use WISH