third conditional

Third Conditional


The third conditional talks about how past events and their consequences (results) might have happened differently.

Form of the third conditional:

If + noun + had + verb-3, subject + would have + verb-3.
Had + noun + verb-3, subject + would have + verb-3.

● Frank did poorly in school and university. If he had taken good notes, reviewed them, and done all his assignments, he would have done well in school and university.
● I was a bad student; now I dig ditches. Had I done well in school, I would have become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer.
● Lisa is a company manager. She would not have advanced If she had married too early.


● If upper management had been more careful, would the company have survived? —> It certainly would.
● Would you have come here had you known the reality? —> Maybe not.
● What would have happened if our team had won the World Cup Championship?
● Where might Gilbert be now if he hadn’t dropped out of high school?

Answer or respond to the following. Say why and give examples.


If I had studied harder and smarter in school (If I hadn’t studied hard and smart in school),

If I had been born into a rich (middle-class, working class, poor) family,

Had I been born in England (Australia, China, Cuba, Egypt, Holland, Italy, Mexico, New York, Norway, Poland, Thailand, Venezuela),

What may have happened had your friend been born in the middle ages (or ancient times, the Renaissance, Victorian Era)?

If your best friend had been born the opposite sex, would you have married him or her?

Hypothetical Situations

If Steve Jobs had been adopted by a lawyer,

Had Mr. Jobs lived longer,

If the wheel hadn’t been invented,

What would have happened if Archimedes, Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Einstein had lived longer?

What can you say about your nation’s history?

What can you say about world history?

Ancient History

If Adam and Eve had not eaten fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil,

What might the world be like today had the Greeks lost the Battles of Marathon and Salamis?

Constantin’s forces defeated Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge. What would have happened if he had lost?

Middle Ages

What would have happened if Temujin (Genghis Khan) had become a shepherd?

The Ming Emperors had halted large-scale maritime expeditions in the mid-1400s. What would have happened if they hadn’t?

If Columbus’ crew had mutinied, and turned the ships back,


Leonardo kept his sketches and notes a secret. What if he hadn’t?

What might have happened if the Spanish Armada had defeated the English Navy in 1580?

In the 1630’s, the Tokugawa government cut Japan off from the rest of the world.

Age of Reason

The Parliamentarians under Oliver Cromwell defeated the Royalists of King Charles I during the English Civil War of the mid-1600s. What would have happened if they lost?

In later life, President George Washington grew tired of politics and retired from office in 1797. If he hadn’t,


Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo to the British and Prussians.

Adolf failed the entrance exam for the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna twice. What if he had succeeded?

What might have happened if German agents did not help Lenin return to Russia during the First World War?

The British Royal Air Force defeated the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain in 1940. The Soviet Red Army pushed drove back the Wehrmacht advance on Moscow in 1941. The US Navy defeated the Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway. What if they had lost?

If John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev had not been careful in October 1962,

What may have happened had Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan lost their respective elections?

400 people in Florida did not vote for Al Gore in 2000 (and so George W. Bush won).


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