Newsletter 027

The Language Studio
4 min readFeb 10, 2021

The Conditionals: Mixed

Time to roll out the heavy artillery.
Over the course of the previous three weeks, we have been discussing the regular conditionals — the zero, first, second, and third. We explained how they are used and how we need to pay attention to the patterns that each of them has in order to convey the intended message in the correct way.

Today, we are wrapping up the conditional saga by mixing things up a little bit. How so? Well, check it out!

First things first — the regular conditionals’ recap:

  • The Zero: to talk about events that always repeat themselves on condition.
  • The First: to talk about events that will happen in the future on condition.
  • The Second: to talk about events that are not true at the moment of speaking or that will probably not happen in the future, but we are still talking about them because we wish that they are true or will be true because we would do (or would not do) something in that case.
  • The Third: to talk about events that happened (or didn’t happen) in the past, because we would have done (or would not have done) something in that case.

Now that we have them sorted out, we can mix them so that we can use them in the cases that we have not discussed up to this moment.

The Mixed Conditionals

So, now that we know that we can use specific conditionals to talk about specific times, what happens when we want to talk about an event in the present/future that is the result of an action that happened in the past? Or to talk about an event in the past that is the result of an event that is still valid in the present? Let us untangle this Gordian knot.

  1. I didn’t do my homework yesterday.
  2. Now, I cannot participate in the class.

If I had done my homework, I could participate in the class. (3+2)

As you can see, we don’t have to mention the times in order to convey the right message (a past event is the reason for a current event). All we need to do is use the third conditional to talk about the reason and the second conditional to talk about the consequence (3 + 2).
Let’s see some other examples, as well:

  • If Duka had stopped more opponents’ shots, our team would play in the finals. (But he didn’t, so we are not in the finals. Thanks, Duka.)
  • If Srko had scored a goal in our previous match, Jeka would feel happy now. (But he didn’t, so Jeka is utterly sad. Thanks, Srko.)
  • Our opponents would still be hurt if Vrba had played the previous match. (But he didn’t, so our team’s feelings are hurt instead. Thanks, Vrba.)

As we can see, if the aforementioned people had done their part, the results would be different now. But, hey, it’s only a sport, right? Riiiiight…

On the other hand, we can use the second conditional to talk about the reason and the third conditional to talk about the consequence, too (2 + 3)!
Let’s see some examples for this combination:

  • If Papi didn’t have so many meetings, he could have attended his classes. (He could not participate in the past, and he still has many meetings. Not your fault, Papi.)
  • If Momo wasn’t so overwhelmed with work, he would have joined his English classes in the past. (He could not join in the past, and he is still overwhelmed. Not your fault, Momo.)
  • Lazar would have done all the homework that Sreten regularly sends out if he could squeeze in some extra time. (He could not do the exercises, and he still can’t squeeze in some time for that. Not your fault, Lazar.)

All these lads have been busy for some time and still are, which is why we want to emphasize that they were not able to do the aforementioned things in the past.

If our colleagues’ examples were not enough for you to completely understand the mixed conditionals, here are some exercises to fill in the void:

Next week, we are finishing this series with some alternatives that can be used instead of the regular/traditional way of making conditional sentences in order to further improve your knowledge, but also to provide you with synonyms and expand your vocabulary.

Take care!



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