We use the third conditional
to talk about hypothetical or unreal situations in the past.
- If that guy had given me the correct directions, then I wouldn't have met my wife.
The guy didn't give me the correct directions and I did meet my wife. The third conditional allows us to talk about different past actions (unreal) and how they would affect the past.
When we use could have instead of would have, this suggests probability instead of something definite.
Look at these two examples:
- I would have done it if you had asked me.
- I could have done it if you had asked me.
The first one is definite. If you had asked me, I definitely would have done it.
The second one introduces probability or possibility.
The first conditional and second conditionals talk about the future.
While the third conditional talks about the past.
We talk about a condition in the past that did not happen.
There is no possibility for this condition. The third conditional is also like a dream
, but with no possibility for the dream to come true.
if+condition+result If+Past Perfect+would have + past participle
- If I had met you three years ago, I would have met the love of my life so much earlier.
We use the Past Perfect tense
to talk about the impossible past condition. We use would have + past participle
to talk about the impossible past result.
- If I had seen Anna yesterday, I would have proposed her.
- If Linda had been free yesterday, I would have asked her out.
- If it had rained yesterday, would you have stayed at home?
- If you had been more caring, you wouldn't have broken up.
- If I had known, I wouldn't have done that.
We can also change the word order of the sentence. Would have + If + past perfect
- I would have proposed Anna if I had seen her.
- I would have asked Linda out if she had been free yesterday.
- Would you have stayed at home if it had rained yesterday?
- You wouldn't have broken up if you had been more caring.
- I wouldn't have done that if I had known.