The Conditionals: Regular (Second and Third)

Continuing on the same note this week as we are reaching the last of the regular conditionals — the infamous Third Conditional.

So far we have discussed three of them and in that way covered the future and the present, but there has still been no say on the past. Now, it may sound shocking, but this conditional is actually the easiest to remember as it has only one purpose, and that is to talk about regrets from the past. If only… Alas!

Once again, we will revise the previous newsletter, i.e. the conditionals we analyzed before this third one:

  • Zero: use it to talk about regular events that repeat themselves whenever.
    If we play football, we play to win. When Tanos plays, we win.
  • First: use it to talk about one or more events that will happen in the future.
    If Tanos applies to play the next match, our defense will be bullet-proof.
    When Bane finishes this project, he will have more time for his English classes.
  • Second: use it to talk about one or more events that we don’t know if they will happen in the future; or to talk about the events that are not real at the moment of speaking:
    If Tanos came to the next game, Sreten would stop mentioning him in the newsletters.
    If Pana had a class now, his little daughter would join as well but only to show us her beautiful drawings.

So, all that is left now is to discuss the past, and that’s where the Third Conditional comes into play.

As already mentioned, the most important thing to remember is that we can use this conditional ONLY when we talk about the past, which is why it is considered the easiest to memorize. Then again, the way we make this conditional is unique as well, as we don’t use its elements with any other regular conditional.
For starters, here are some examples for you just to see the pattern with the help of our friend, teammate, and colleague Tanos:

  • If Tanos had come to our previous match, he would have scored the winning goal for sure.
  • If Tanos had applied to play in our previous match, he could have prevented this newsletter from being published.
  • If Tanos had agreed to play for the team, Sreten would not have decided to dedicate the third conditional to him.

Obviously, we can notice that Tanos was not present when his team played the last match. Also, we can notice that he had a chance to change some things that happened in the past (he would/could have scored, the team could have won, this newsletter would not have been published). However, he did not join his friends, and, therefore, he could not avoid the consequences. But, hey, at least we now know how to use the Third Conditional thanks to him; you rock, Tanos! :)

And how do we make the Third Conditional? Well, in the conditional part, we use the IF + HAD + a verb in the third column, and WOULD/COULD/SHOULD + HAVE + a verb in the third column.

If it is still unclear how to make and/or use this conditional, worry not as we are providing you with some exercises:

Next week we are bringing you the last chapter of this Conditional series where we will talk about all three conditionals, their mixed versions, along with some alternatives that we can use in order to further improve our vocabulary and eloquence.

Take care!

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