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Advanced Grammar: Mixed Conditionals

Mixed Conditionals

Advanced Grammar: Mixed Conditionals

Let’s begin with what we know: the zero conditional is used to talk about universal truths, the first for likely present or future situations, the second for unlikely, highly unlikely, or even impossible present or future situations, and the third for past hypothetical situations. But mixed conditionals move through time.

Look at this 3rd conditional sentence: If she’d gone to bed earlier, she wouldn’t have been tired. That’s fine if everything we’re talking about is in the past.

But if we want to describe a past condition with a present result, we could also say this:
 If she’d gone to bed earlier, she wouldn’t be tired (now). In fact, this is better, as it gives us more direct information – she did go to bed late, and she is tired now. We often add a present time expression to add emphasis, but it isn’t necessary.

By combining the 2nd & 3rd conditionals in the if clause and the main clause we can refer to many different variations of time. Below you’ll find example situations transformed into mixed conditionals. Don’t worry if it looks complicated – every variation is simply a mix of the 2nd and 3rd conditionals, which you already know!

To revise basic conditionals, go to Zero, 1st & 2nd Conditionals

For more practice, go to 3rd Conditional

Variations on Mixed Conditionals

Past conditions with present results

  • He married an Italian, so he’s living in Rome now → If he hadn’t married an Italian, he wouldn’t be living in Rome now

 

Past conditions with future results:

  • I didn’t pass the exam, so I’m doing it again next week → If I had passed the exam, I wouldn’t be doing it again next week

 

Present conditions with past results:

  • I’m not in the WhatsApp group, so I didn’t get the message yesterday → If I were in the group, I’d have got that message yesterday

 

Present conditions with future results:

  • John hasn’t got to work this week – that’s why he’s helping you move tomorrow → If John had to work this week, he wouldn’t be helping you move tomorrow

 

Future conditions with present results:

  • I’m not going to see you again, so I’m feeling really sad → If were going to see you again, I wouldn’t be feeling so sad

 

Future conditions with past results:

  • I’m going on holiday next week, so I couldn’t take on that extra work → If I weren’t going on holiday next week, I would have been able to take on that extra work

Mixed Conditional Practice

Complete the sentences with the verbs in brackets to form mixed conditionals. We’re doing this the old-fashioned way, so get a pen and paper!

(Answers at the foot of the page)

  1. If Trump had never been elected president, I’m sure our planet __________________ (not be) in such grave danger today.
  2. I __________________ (buy) that eco-friendly detergent yesterday if it were cheaper.
  3. If you’d bought a better map, we __________________ (be) lost in the middle of nowhere now!
  4. If flying didn’t contribute so much to global warming, I __________________ (visit) my friend in New Zealand a long time ago.
  5. I __________________ (ban) single-use plastic bags by now if I were Minister of the Environment,
  6. If we were stricter about recycling, we __________________ (prevented) the formation of isands of plastic in our oceans.
  7. Pollution in China might not be so bad now if they __________________ (not stop) using bikes as the major form of transport.
  8. If we __________________ (not think) they could do the job, we wouldn’t have voted for them.
  9. Greenhouse gases wouldn’t be such a problem if we __________________ (put) stronger restrictions on traffic years ago.
  10. I wouldn’t need English lessons if I __________________ (be born) in London!

Next Steps

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You’ll also find loads more practice on all aspects of the Aptis tests in our Guide.

Answers

  1. If Trump had never been elected president, I’m sure our planet wouldn’t be in such grave danger today.
  2. I’d have bought that eco-friendly detergent yesterday if it were cheaper.
  3. If you’d bought a better map, we wouldn’t be lost in the middle of nowhere now!
  4. If flying didn’t contribute so much to global warming, I would have visited my friend in New Zealand a long time ago.
  5. I would have banned single-use plastic bags by now if I were Minister of the Environment,
  6. If we were stricter about recycling, we could/might/would have prevented the formation of isands of plastic in our oceans.
  7. Pollution in China might not be so bad now if they hadn’t stopped using bikes as the major form of transport.
  8. If we didn’t think they could do the job, we wouldn’t have voted for them.
  9. Greenhouse gases wouldn’t be such a problem if we had put stronger restrictions on traffic years ago.
  10. I wouldn’t need English lessons if I’d been born in London!

 

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