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Third Conditional Explanation

Conditionals are an important part of English grammar. Take a look at the following explanation to learn how to use the third conditional correctly.

Grammar Corner Third Conditional Explanation


What Is the Third Conditional?

The third conditional 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.

For example:

  • 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 her 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)

Third Conditional Structure

Like the other conditionals, a third conditional sentence consists of two clauses, an ‘if‘ clause and a main clause. We use different verb forms in each part of a third conditional sentence.

If the ‘if‘ clause comes first, a comma is usually used. If the ‘if‘ clause comes second, there is no need for a comma.

Third Conditional Form:

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.

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