Mastering Conditional Type 3 grammar can help you craft more sophisticated sentences, elevate your compositions, and ultimately improve your writing. Whether you’re a student just learning the basics or an experienced writer brushing up on your skills, this guide will provide an easy-to-understand introduction to the fundamentals of Conditional Type 3 grammar.
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What is Conditional Type 3
Conditional Type 3 (or “Third Conditional) is one among other conditionals in the English language. It is a grammatical structure used in English to express hypothetical situations and their results that are contrary to what actually occurred. This structure makes use of the past perfect, a verb form for describing an action that has previously occurred. By using this structure, a speaker can describe very specific events or consequences which would have happened under different conditions.
Conditional type 3 sentences
- If they had listened to my advice they wouldn’t have lost their money.
- Had he not missed the bus, he would have been on time. (This is not a question)
- If she had known the truth, she wouldn’t have believed it.
- I would have passed the exam if I had studied harder.
- We would have caught the train if she had arrived earlier.
- If we had left earlier we wouldn’t have been stuck in traffic for hours.
- She wouldn’t have broken her phone if she had been more careful.
- They would have saved money if they had bought the tickets in advance.
- If I had known how to swim I would have gone scuba diving with them.
- We wouldn’t have gotten lost if we had taken a map.
- If he had studied harder in school he would have gotten into a better university.
Conditional Type 3 indicates a scenario in which the past could have been different. In this type of sentence construction, the verb phrase in the ‘if’ clause is set in the past perfect tense, and the verb phrase in the main clause is expressed in the present perfect conditional form. Conditional Type 3 is a statement that uses an ‘IF’ clause to state conditions that are usually unlikely to come true. It follows the structure of “If + past perfect, + would/could/might + have + past participle”.
As seen in the previous conditional type 3 sentences, there are two important clauses that make up this grammatical structure. The first clause is the “if clause” and the second clause is the “main clause,”. To form Conditional Type 3, we use the past perfect in the “if clause” and “would have + past participle” in the “main clause.”
[If + Subject + Past Perfect + complement],
[subject + Modal in Past + Have + Past Participle + complement]
The use of conditional type 3
when we use conditional type 3 we are referring to an impossible situation in the past. We wish for the opposite of that situation.
consider these situations:
- last month Ann was sick. Her friend Joan didn’t know this, and she didn’t go to see her.
they met again after Ann got better.
Joan said :
If I had known that you were sick, I would have gone to see you.
this means, that in reality, Joan didn’t know Ann was sick that’s why she said: ” if I had known….”. Did she go to see her? No, she didn’t go to see her.
- Last weekend, Sarah went on a road trip with her friends. They visited several tourist spots, but they missed out on a famous museum that Sarah really wanted to see.
When Sarah returned from her trip, her colleague asked her:
Did you get a chance to visit the museum?
No, unfortunately, we couldn’t make it there. If we had had more time, we would have definitely gone.
This means that Sarah and her friends did not have enough time to visit the museum despite their interest.
- Last week, John organized a party to celebrate his birthday. His friend Alex couldn’t attend the party because he had to work.
When John and Alex met again, Alex said:
If I had known that it was your birthday party, I would have taken the day off work and come to celebrate with you.
This means that Alex was not aware that it was John’s birthday party, and that’s why he couldn’t attend it.