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21. Conditionals 3


1 Introduction

How was your camping holiday?
Well, it would have been all right if it hadn't rained all the time.
If we'd gone two weeks earlier, we'd have had better weather.

If it hadn't rained and if we'd gone two weeks earlier are imaginary situations in the past.
It did rain, and they didn't go two weeks earlier.

2 Third Conditional: If we had gone earlier, we would have had better weather

Note the verb in the Past Perfect (e.g. had been). We do not use would in the if-clause.
NOT If David would have been more carefull, he would have fallen.

The main clause often has would have. We can also use could have or might have.
If I'd had my mobile yesterday, I could have contacted you.
We just caught the train. If we'd stopped to buy a paper, we might have missed it.

The short form 'd can be either had or would.
If you'd rung me, I'd have come to see you. (= If you had rung me, I would have come to see you.)

3 The use of the Third Conditional

We use the Third Conditional to talk about things in the past happening differently from the way they really happened. This sometimes means criticizing people or pointing out their mistakes.
If you'd been a bit more careful, you wouldn't have cut yourself.
If Matthew had set his alarm clock, he wouldn't have overslept.
We can also use this structure to express regret about the past.
If I hadn't fallen ill and missed the interview, I might have got the job.

4 Second and Third Conditionals

Compare these examples.
Second: If you planned things properly, you wouldn't get into a mess. (You don't plan.)
Third: If you had planned things properly, you wouldn't have got into a mess. (You didn't plan.)
We can mix the Second and Third conditionals.
If you had planned things at the start, we wouldn't be in this mess now.
If you hadn't left all these dirty dishes, the place would look a bit tidier.
If Matthew was more sensible, he would have worn a suit to the interview.
If I didn't have all this work to do, I would have gone out for the day.

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