Daisy prepares a surprise party for Amy. 

We use the third conditional (if + past perfect, would + have + past participle) to talk about something in the past that did not happen.

How is the third conditional different from the other conditionals?

This is the way we imagine how things could have been different in the past. If something had been different, something else would have happened. Notice that both the condition and the result are impossible now.

If I’d known, I would have worn something nicer.

In this case, Amy didn’t know about the party so she didn’t wear special clothes.

OK, so the bit after if is different to what really happened?

Yes, then the next clause is imagining the result in the past, which didn’t happen, of course. The if clause can be at the beginning or at the end of the sentence.

I definitely would’ve remembered if you’d told me!

So Alfie didn’t remember because Ollie didn’t tell him.

Exactly. We can use negatives to talk about things that did happen in the past.

He wouldn’t have missed the bus if he hadn’t overslept.

So he overslept and he missed the bus.

Yes. When you’re using this kind of conditional be careful with the contractions. We use 'd for would and had.

If I’d seen him, I’d have asked him to come over.   (had, would)

Can you use other verbs apart from would?

Yes, we also use could or might.

If they’d told me, I might have been able to help.

These sentences all seem a bit negative.

Well, yes. We often use the third conditional to express regret or to complain about something.

It would’ve been even better if Alfie hadn’t ruined it!

If I’d known about the third conditional before, I wouldn’t have failed my English test!



If you had been born a boy/girl, how would your life have been different?


ruya's picture
ruya 2 April, 2015 - 10:41

If I wêre a boy, I would have more rights then yet. I would not live with my parents and I were also allowed to have a gf

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