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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 + 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
have gone…
have stayed…
I would have believed …
She wouldn’t have given…
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..”


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?


June 13, 2008 - Posted by | Learn English - Tenses

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