The Third Conditional

This is certainly the most difficult conditional to use due to its complicated structure.  The third conditional is formed using if plus the past perfect, plus would, plus the present perfect.  This conditional expresses the way we imagine things might have been in the past.  If something had been different, something else would have happened as we can see in the following example.  If Spain’s coach hadn’t been sacked, the team would have played better.  The fact is, Spain’s coach was sacked, and the team did not play well.  The second clause is a consequence of the first clause where we are imagining the result in the past which did not happen. Could and might can also be used instead of wouldexpressing possibility or probability.

We often use this conditonal when we want to express regret or satisfaction, as we can see in the following short story.  Fill in the gaps with the following verbs in the third conditional.  Some of the verbs can be repeated:  be, have got, have, know, decide, use, think, spend, use, think

  • Once upon a time there was a very young boy. He was the youngest of six brothers. If he (1)  ………  ………   older he (2) …………..   ……….. ………   able to join the local football team like his brothers.  But he wasn’t old enough so he had to stay at home while his brothers spent their summer days training.  If his brothers (3) ………..  ………    …………   so much time training, he(4)   …………   ……..    have   ………  alone.  If he (5) ……….  ……..    ………..  alone, he (6) …………  ……  …… ….. a great idea.  Can you guess what his idea was?  As he was on his own every day, he decided to train by himself.   If he (7) ……….. ……..   ……….  on his own everyday he (8) …………  …..   ……….  …………   to do this.  His parents didn’t have very much money so they left for work early every morning and didn’t return until late in the evening.  If his parents (9) ………..    ……….  more money, they (10) …………   ……..  ………….   ………  to work so hard, and they (11) …………   …………   ………….   what he was doing.

  • Our young friend went out running as soon as his brothers went to the club.  Then he went to a big field and practised bouncing and kicking the ball.  This field was always empty and that is why he used it.  If there (12) ………   ………..   animals in the field he (13) ……………   ……..   …………   used it.  There were no animals, but there were huge stones, which he used to form goal posts. If there (14)  …………   ……..   ………..   these big stones, then he (15)  …………..   ………  ………..    …………   able to practise shooting.   He trained hard every day of the year, except on Christmas Day, and when he was old enough, he was able to score more goals than his brothers and the other boys in his village.  Naturally, the local team wanted him to play for them.  The only problem was, our friend was such a good striker and the local team was so poor, that he decided not to join them so he went off to the big city, where he was contracted by a very important club and became rich and famous.  His parents were very happy because they didn’t have to work ever again.

ANSWERS

  • Once upon a time there was a very young boy. He was the youngest of six brothers. If he (1)had been older he (2)would have been able to join the local football team like his brothers.  But he wasn’t old enough so he had to stay at home while his brothers spent their summer days training.  If his brothers (3)hadn’t spent so much time training he (4)wouldn’t have been alone.  If he (5)hadn’t been alone, he (6)wouldn’t have got a great idea.  Can you guess what his idea was?  As he was on his own every day, he decided to train by himself.   If he (7)hadn’t been on his own everyday he (8)wouldn’t have decided to do this.  His parents didn’t have very much money so they left for work early every morning and didn’t return until late in the evening.  If his parents (9)had had more money, they (10)wouldn’t have had to work so hard, and they (11)would have known what he was doing.

  • Our young friend went out running as soon as his brothers went to the club.  Then he went to a big field and practised bouncing and kicking the ball.  This field was always empty and that is why he used it.  If there (12)had been animals in the field he (13)wouldn’t have used it.  There were no animals, but there were huge stones, which he used to form goal posts. If there (14)hadn’t been these big stones, then he (15)wouldn’t have been able to practise shooting.   He trained hard every day of the year, except on Christmas Day, and when he was old enough, he was able to score more goals than his brothers and the other boys in his village.  Naturally, the local team wanted him to play for them.  The only problem was, our friend was such a good striker and the local team was so poor, that he decided not to join them so he went off to the big city, where he was contracted by a very important club and became rich and famous.  His parents were very happy because they didn’t have to work ever again.