How To Use Second, Third and Mixed Conditional Clauses in English - Quiz + Audio Lesson | DailyStep English

How To Use Second, Third and Mixed Conditional Clauses in English - Quiz + Audio Lesson

What is the correct way to use Second Conditional, Third Conditional and Mixed Conditional clauses in English?

Free lesson and quiz about conditional clauses in EnglishHello, I'm Jane at DailyStep English. This Free Quiz + Lesson will help you learn how to use Second, Third and Mixed Conditional clauses correctly.

Even advanced learners sometimes make mistakes to check your understanding here. 

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SECOND AND THIRD CONDITIONALS

by Jane Lawson at DailyStep.com

Many English learners say this topic is confusing. But really, it is not difficult if you learn the structure. My last lesson covered Zero and First Conditionals, so today we are going to look at the last 3 types: Second, Third and Mixed Conditionals.


SECOND CONDITIONAL

I live in London so I travel every day on London buses.

I travel every day on London buses because I live in London.
(note: this is the REAL present situation)

If I didn’t live in London, I would not travel every day on London buses.
I would not travel every day on London buses if I did not live in London.

(note: this is the UNREAL present situation)

We use this Second Conditional structure to talk about unreal or very improbable situations in the present or future, in other words, for the hypothetical present or future. The structure is:

CONDITION CLAUSE

MAIN CLAUSE

If + Past Simple or Past Continuous

If I won the lottery,

Would + Present Infinitive without “to”

I would be rich.


If I were you,

(note: use I/he/she WERE
in second conditionals)


I would take the job.


If they were serious about helping,



they would be trying to find a solution.


The mistake
that I hear the most often with conditionals is this:

If I were you, I would to take the job.

WOULD is a MODAL, and modals are always followed by the infinitive without TO.
You can see a table of all English infinitives here.

THIRD CONDITIONAL

I moved to London and I met him.
(note: this is the REAL past situation)

If I had not moved to London,  I would not have met him.
I would not have met him if I had not moved to London.

(note: this is the UNREAL past situation)

We use this Third Conditional structure to talk about unreal situations  in the past, in other words, for the hypothetical past. The structure is:

CONDITION CLAUSE

MAIN CLAUSE

If + Past Perfect Simple or Continuous

If I had not moved to London,

Would + Past Infinitive without “to”

I would not have met him.


If he had crossed the road 2 minutes earlier,


he would have been hit by a bus.


If I had been listening to the radio at that time,



Had I been listening to the radio at that time,




I would have heard the news.

One of the problems that English learners face with conditionals in conversation, both speaking and listening, is the way they are pronounced. Listen to these sentences for both second and third conditional again:

1. If I won the lottery, I’d be rich.

2. If I were you, I’d take the job.

3. If they were serious about helping, they’d be trying to find a solution.

4. If I hadn’t moved to London, I wouldn't have met him.

5. If he’d crossed the road two minutes earlier, he’d have been hit by a bus.

6. If I’d been listening to the radio at that time, I’d have heard the news.

As you can hear, we do not say WOULD clearly and we rarely say HAD clearly. We use quick, short pronunciation forms instead. So unless you practise and listen carefully, you might miss conditionals in conversation. If you can use these quick pronunciation forms (also called contractions) in conversation and in spoken English Exams, your English will sound much more natural.

Finally, let's look at MIXED CONDITIONALS

If I had not created the DailyStep English website, you would not be listening to this lesson. (note: this refers to how the unreal past affects the unreal present.)

So Mixed Conditionals are nothing new - they are just a mixture of Second and Third Conditionals. We use them to talk about unreal past and unreal present together. Take a look at these examples:

CONDITION CLAUSE

MAIN CLAUSE

If + Past Perfect Simple or Continuous

If I had not moved to London,

Would + Present Infinitive without “to”

I would not live here now.


If he had told me that it was a secret,



I would not be telling you now.


So, now you know these structures, there are a just a couple of rules to remember:


1.  If the main clause comes before the conditional clause, there is NO COMMA between the clauses.

2. The infinitive is always without TO. So you NEVER SAY “I would to do it.”
You can see a table of all English infinitives here.

So, now try to make some conditional sentences about your own life. Here are a few questions you could try to answer:

1. What would you like to do if you could choose any job in the world?

2. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

3. How would you have felt if you had met Nelson Mandela?
4. If you were on holiday, what would you be doing now?

If you are subscriber to DailyStep Audio Lessons you can download this audio file. That’s all for Audio Word Study #136 on DailyStep.com

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How to use second and third conditional clauses in English