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Conditional III

Schlagwörter: Englische Grammatik, Conditional, Englisch, grammar

Last month we reviewed the rules for creating sentences using Conditionals I and II. These constructs are used when talking about the present or future and discussing what might, might have, or never will take place.

Conditional III is used when talking about the past and imagining something different from what actually happened. The condition was never fulfilled, and thus the result never took place and can never take place.

Think of Conditional III as the “Dream Conditional”: unfortunately, with no possibility of the dream ever coming true! Conditional III sentences thus often sound like regrets. What’s important to remember is that both the condition and the result are now impossible.

To get started, we’d first like to refresh your memory about the structure of a conditional sentence:

Structure of a conditional sentence

In English there are two possibilities:



If we had decreased our prices in July, we would have had a better year.

We would have had a better year if we had decreased our prices in July.

Rules­­ for ­­constructing ­­conditional­­ III sentences 

The rules for constructing Conditional III sentences are easy. The following table will help. You may use the active or passive voice for any verb..

impossible III
If + condition + main clause
condition = past perfect
main clause = would, should, could, or might have +
past participle
If the test results had been positive, we could have applied for a patent.
If everyone had agreed, we would have proceeded to the next phase.
If we had had more time, we could have looked into it.
If you had visited Boston, you might have been able to see the sights.
If you had received the report, we could have reviewed it together.
If I had won the lottery, I would have bought a new car.
If you had won the lottery, you should have donated some of the money to charity.
If we hadn't introduced the issue of our merger, we might have won the deal.
If we hadn't given a talk today, we would have been able to use the time to look at what other vendors have to offer.
If we hadn't finished yesterday, we would have been in trouble now.
If you hadn't won the lottery, we wouldn't be sitting on this yacht.

Conditionals I, II and III simple and straightforward 


MODAL = may, should, can, could, ought to, might

Conditional I
If-statements that are likely.
The action takes place in the future.
if [present tense], WILL + [future tense]
if [present tense], MODAL + [infinitive]
If the test results are positive, we will apply for a patent.
If we have more time, we should look into it.

Conditional II
If-statements that imply the condition is unlikely or impossible.
The action takes place in the present or future.
if [past simple tense], MODAL + [infinitive]
if [past simple tense], MODAL + BE + [present continuous]
If you were promoted, you would earn more.
If the customer said yes, we would be sitting in a better financial position.

Conditional III
If-statements that are impossible and express an outcome
that differs with reality. The action has already been
completed and the result cannot be changed. The "Dream
if [past perfect], MODAL + HAVE + [past participle]
If I had won the lottery, I would have bought a new car.

Schlagwörter: Englische Grammatik, Conditional, Englisch, grammar

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