If you want to improve your English skills, you need to learn the four common conditional forms. Today, we will discuss the conditional form for talking about regret.
Use the third conditional to talk about a past situation that didn't happen and the imaginary result of this situation.
1. If I had studied medicine, I would have been a surgeon. (But you didn’t study medicine, so you’re not a surgeon.
2. I wouldn’t have been sick if I hadn’t eaten so much. (But you did eat too much, so you were sick.)
3. If I had taken a taxi, I would have arrived on time. (But you didn’t take a taxi, so you arrived late.)
All conditional forms have two clauses, the conditional clause and the result clause. In the examples above, the conditional clauses are the parts in bold font.
If I had studied medicine, I would have been a surgeon.
Basically, the third conditional says: If A had happened, then B would have happened.
To form the third conditional, follow these structures:
1. If I had studied medicine, I would have been a surgeon.
[If + past perfect], [would have + past participle].
2. I wouldn’t have been sick if I hadn’t eaten so much.
[would have + past participle] + [if + past perfect].
Using the third conditional
The third conditional is used to make statements about past conditions and their imaginary results. Note that the condition and result are both impossible now.
Basically, you use this form to talk about something you wish had gone differently in the past so you can have different results now.
In place of would have, you can also use the following words: could have, may have, and might have.
Here are more examples:
1. If I had known you were in the hospital, I would have visited you.
2. I might have tried skiing if I had gone to the Alps.
3. If you had studied harder, you would have passed the exam.
4. If Wilma had married Tom, she would have been happy.
5. If I hadn't shouted at him, we could have remained friends.
Remember how to form the third conditional and practice using it whenever you can.
Now, try it out! Complete the following statements using the third conditional.
1. If it hadn't rained, __________.
2. If would have bought you a present, if __________.
3. If I had known you were coming, I would have__________.
If you want to learn more about the conditional forms, schedule a lesson with us. Our online English teachers can help you practice using the different conditional forms in fun conversational English lessons!