TYPE 3 CONDITIONAL SENTENCES

1. Form

In a Type 3 conditional sentence, the tense in the 'if' clause is the past perfect, and the tense in the main clause is the perfect conditional:

IF' CLAUSE MAIN CLAUSE

If + past perfect
If it had rained
If you had worked harder

Perfect conditional
you would have got wet
you would have passed the exam.

Perfect conditional - form

The perfect conditional of any verb is composed of two elements: would + the perfect infinitive of the main verb (=have + past participle):

Subject would perfect infinitive
He
They
would
would
have gone...
have stayed...
Affirmative

I

would

have believed ...

Negative

She

wouldn't

have given...

Interrogative

Would

you

have left...?

Interrogative negative

Wouldn't

he

have been...?

Example: to go, Past conditional

Affirmative Negative Interrogative

I would have gone

I wouldn't have gone

Would I have gone?

You would have gone

You wouldn't have gone

Would you have gone?

He would have gone

She wouldn't have gone

Would it have gone?

We would have gone

We wouldn't have gone

Would we have gone?

You would have gone

You wouldn't have gone

Would you have gone?

They would have gone

They wouldn't have gone

Would they have gone?

In these sentences, the time is past, and the situation is contrary to reality. The facts they are based on are the opposite of what is expressed.

Type 3 conditional sentences, are truly hypothetical or unreal, because it is now too late for the condition or its result to exist. There is always an unspoken "but..." phrase:

  • If I had worked harder I would have passed the exam
    (
    but I didn't work hard, and I didn't pass the exam).
  • If I'd known you were coming I'd have baked a cake
    (
    but I didn't know, and I haven't baked a cake).

NOTE: Both would and had can be contracted to 'd, ++which can be confusing. Remember that you NEVER use would in the IF-clause, so in the example above, "If I'd known" must be "If I had known", and "I'd have baked" must be "I would have baked.."

Examples

a. If I'd known you were in hospital, I would have visited you.
b. I would have bought you a present if I'd known it was your birthday.
c. If they'd had a better goalkeeper they wouldn't have lost the game.
d. If you had told me you were on the Internet, I'd have sent you an e-mail.
e. Would you have bought an elephant if you'd known how much they eat?