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Hablaremos en este espacio de tres tipos concretos de modos del condicional, los llamados Conditional Types.


This week, we’ll be taking a look at the idea of Mixed conditionals. The time in which we use the Second and Third conditionals is quite limited. For the Second conditional, we must refer the present or the future. With the Third conditional, we have to refer to the past. Before we go on, let’s take a quick look at the Second and Third conditionals in a bit more detail.

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As mentioned above, the Second conditional can be used to talk about now or the future. We use it when we are only imagining something. The construction of the Second conditional is ‘If + Past + Would (do).’ We can call this last part the Conditional tense. For example:

— If I met Leonardo DiCaprio, I would tell him that I love his movies.

— If we went to the beach tomorrow, we would be able to go surfing.

The Third conditional is used when we imagine something in the past that didn’t happen. Keeping this definition in mind, we can only use it to refer to something in the past. Its construction is ‘If + Past Perfect + Would Have (done).’ We can call this last part the Conditional Perfect tense. For example:

— If she had kept her original Star Wars poster, she would have been able to make a lot of money selling it.

— If I had won the lottery last Christmas, I would have bought a boat.

Now we need to talk about Mixed conditionals. In Mixed conditionals, we combine elements of the Second and Third conditional construction within one sentence. They are quite useful, because they allow us to talk about different time periods in relation to one another. For example, if we imagine the past and a consequence of that now, we can use the following structure: ‘If + Past Perfect + Would (do).’ For example:

— If I had gone to dental school, I would be a dentist now.

— If John had listened to me, he wouldn’t be in jail right now!

The other Mixed conditional has us imagine a current situation and the effect it has in the past. Its construction is ‘If + Past Simple + Would Have (done).’ For example:

— If there weren’t so much construction on my street, I would have slept better last night.

— If I were smarter, I would have become a doctor!

As you can see, knowing the constructions of the different conditionals is key. Once you know the constructions, you can go out and use them freely in any situation! To practice, see the exercises below.


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Glenn Harman
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