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Practice with the exercises:
Exercise 1

1. The third conditional

In English there are several types of conditionals and, among them, the third conditional. This type of conditional is used to think about situations from the past that did not occur and imagine what results they would have had.
If you had put yeast, the cake would have risen.
If I had asked you, would you have helped me?

2. The structure of the third conditional 

The third conditional has the following structure:

If + past perfect, subjectwould + have + verb in past participle

Remember that to make the participle we must take into account whether the verb is regular (will be formed by adding the particle -ed at the end of the verb) or irregular (3rd column of the list of irregular verbs).

Sometimes, instead of would other modal verbs such as could or might can be used:

  Third conditional
WOULD If I had remembered it was your birthday, I would have bought you a present.
COULD If I had saved my money, I could have gone on holiday.
MIGHT If we had had time, we might have gone to the beach.

Another feature of conditionals is that the order of the two phrases can be changed. If we start with the condition (If) we will separate them with a comma. If we start with the phrase that expresses the result it is not necessary to put the comma.

If I had known your reaction, I wouldn't have told you.
I wouldn't have told you if I had known your reaction.

3. How is the third conditional used?

  • To refer to situations from the past that never happened and imagine what results they would have had.
    If I had had famous parents, I would have had an amazing life.
    If you had helped me, I wouldn't have failed the exam.
  • To express regret for not having done an action in the past.
    If I'd worked harder, I'd have got a promotion.
    If I 'd been careful, I wouldn't have cut myself.
    It should be noted that the contracted form of had, like the one of would is 'd.


Uses Examples
To express possible results to situations that did not occur in the past. If you had come earlier, you would have had a better seat.
To express regret for not having done an action in the past. If I had taken an umbrella, I wouldn't have got wet.