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English Grammar Reference: The Third Conditional

We use the third conditional to talk about a situation in the past which would have happened if something else had happened.

It is the past conditional.

If I had studied harder for my exam, I would have passed.
If I hadn't passed my driving test they wouldn't have given me the job.

Look at the construction:

If

subject

had

past participle

subject

would

have

past participle

If

I

had

had a lot of money last year,

I

would

have

gone to Australia.

If

you

had

told me it was your birthday

I

would
have
baked a cake.

If

I

hadn't

been tired last night,

I

would

have

played squash.

Look at the question form:

Question word

auxiliary

subject

have + past participle

if + subject + had + past participle

What

would

you

have done

if you hadn't gone to the cinema last night?

 

Would

you

have come

if you hadn't argued with her?

Where

would

you

have gone

if you hadn't had to work last summer?

Note: When we use the third conditional everything has to be in the past - both the part of the and the would clause. If we want to talk about a hypothetical situation in the past and the results now we have to use a mixed conditional.

 

See also:

English Grammar Reference
Zero conditional, First conditional, Second conditional, Mixed conditionals