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Session 62

Welcome to English In A Minute. Give us a minute and we'll give you a hot tip about English. Grammar, vocabulary... there's so much to learn! And all taught by your favourite BBC Learning English staff!

Activity 1

The 3rd Conditional

Do you have a minute to spare to learn some English? Sam's sure to show us all about the third conditional! Give us 60 seconds and we'll give you the English!

Watch the video and complete the activity

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Welcome to BBC Learning English. I'm Sam and today we're talking about the third conditional.

The third conditional is a little strange because we're talking about something that didn't happen in the past. Why would we do that? Well, because sometimes we want to imagine a different outcome.

A friend of mine came to visit me yesterday. It was a surprise, so when I opened my front door, I said:

"If I'd known you were coming, I would have baked a cake!"

Did I know she was coming? No. Did I bake a cake? No.

So I'm imagining a different result.

Because we're talking about an imaginary past, we use:
If + the subject + the past perfect, the subject + would have + past participle

And you can also swap those round: What would you have done if you'd known your friend was coming?


Did you like that? Why not try these?

EIAM Teaser 6mingram_9_third_conditional.jpg 6mingram_24_conditionals_review.jpg______________________________________________________________________________________________________

The 3rd Conditional

A typical 3rd conditional uses this formula: If + subject + past perfect (had + past participle verb), subject + would have + past participle. The first half (If + subject + past perfect) is known as the 'conditional clause' or 'if clause'. The second half (subject + would have + past participle verb) is known as the 'main clause'. These can be placed in either order with no change in meaning. When the main clause comes first, we do not use a comma between them.

  • If I had known you were coming, I would have baked a cake.
  • I would have baked a cake if I'd known you were coming.

The third conditional
is used to wonder and imagine about past events that did not happen.

  • If I'd been born in Spain, I would have learned Spanish, not English!
  • What would you have done if you'd failed your test?


To do

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