Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! My name is Alisha.
In this lesson, I’m going to talk about “the third conditional.”
Let’s get started!
Okay, I first want to begin by talking about the “if clause” of the third conditional.
So, when we make statements using this third conditional grammar point, we have an “if clause” and a “main clause.” So, the “if clause” introduces an unreal past situation. The “main clause” will give us some other information. I’ll talk about that later.
So, I want to focus first on making this “if clause.”
A basic pattern that we use is “if” plus our [subject] then we’ll choose “had” or “hadn’t” and the [past participle form of a verb] to introduce some information.
So, when we use “had,” the positive “had” and we’re making a statement in this case, it refers to things that did not happen. This is something that did not happen in the past.
So, “If I had..”
“If we had…”
“If she had…”
And so on.
So, although it is a positive statement, this is for something that did not happen in the past. We’re talking about a past unreal situation. However, when we use the negative form, “hadn’t,” the contracted “had not,” it’s to refer to things that happened in the past. So this past part did actually happen, but we’re using “hadn’t” to mean if this thing did not occur, if this thing had not happened, in other words. So, yes, it did happen, but what if it had not happened? That’s what we want to talk about here.
So, all of these situations that we’re going to describe today, all of these example sentences are kind of expressions of regret. So, regret means something that we are sad about or unhappy about in the past or something that we wish we could change in the past. So, a lot of these example sentences have kind of an unhappy feeling about them.
Also, I want to introduce a few very common ways that we use this grammar. These are common “if clauses.”
So, for example:
“If I had known...”
So we see the positive form “had” here. So in this case, that means the speaker did not know about something in the past, but if he or she had known, so this is what we would use to talk about something we wish we had received information about in the past, we did not receive information about.
Here, another positive:
“If you had told me…”
So again, the speaker did not get information. Nobody told the speaker anything. This did not happen in the past.
“If he had called me…”
Again, positive, so the speaker was not called in this case.
Here…
“If they had let me know…”
Again, the speaker was not made aware of something.
“If we had heard…”
Or “If we had worked faster…”
So these are some very common expressions that we use. These all use the positive form, but we’ll see some examples of how to use the negative form as well.
So as I said, these are ways that we can build the “if clause” portion of a third conditional statement. You can make a third conditional statement using “if clause” first, “main clause” second, or you can switch it around. You can do “main clause” first and “if clause” second if you like. So it just kind of changes the feeling a little bit, but it doesn’t affect the meaning of the sentence.
So, now that we understand how to make an “if clause” statement, I want to look at how to build the “main clause.” In the “main clause,” we can choose a lot of different things. We can use these expressions. These are probably the most commonly used expressions that we put in the main clause; “would,” “could,” and “might,” I have included here. I’m not going to talk in depth in this lesson about using “would” and “could” and “wouldn’t” and “couldn’t” in the past, in this lesson. There are other lessons on the channel where I’ve talked about how to use these grammar points in depth, so please check out those videos on the channel.
So, the “main clause” can take many different forms and your choice here significantly affects the meaning of your sentence. So, I see viewer questions on this channel like, “Is there any difference between “would have” and “could have” or “might have?” And yes, the answer is yes. There is a huge difference, so I highly recommend learning how to correctly use these words.
So, I have here in the positive form and in the negative form. Also, note that these are in the past as well, “I would have” and then we’ll follow this with a verb. Same thing here in the negative, “wouldn’t have,” “couldn’t have,” “might not have” (verb). So, we’re talking about something in the past, again, but did not happen, so all of these, everything I’m talking about here, these are all unreal situations. We’re just talking about things we regret or we wish we could change.
So, it’s kind of difficult, I think, to see these without examples, so let’s take a look at some.
Let’s begin with this one, a positive one, “If I had known you were visiting…”
Here’s my “if clause.”
“If I had known you were visiting, I would have had coffee with you!”
First, let’s look at the “if clause.” “If I had known…,” if I had known. Here’s my past participle verb, “If I had known you were visiting…” So this means, it did not happen. It’s a positive statement. It therefore did not happen. The speaker did not know the listener was visiting in this situation.
But, if in the past, the speaker did have the information, if the speaker had known as we expressed here, the speaker “would have had coffee with you.” So this “would have” shows a future desire, but because this did not happen, we can’t use “will.” We have to use “would.” So we use “would” to talk about unreal situations that are like at a future point in the past, but they did not happen.
So, if the speaker had known, the speaker did not know, but if the speaker had had information, their future action would have been to get coffee. So, we cannot use “will here.” We use “would” to describe this unreal situation, so please don’t use “would,” don’t… or I’m sorry, don’t use “will,” don’t use “going to” here. It’s an unreal past situation, please use “would.” So, “If I’d known you were visiting, I would have had coffee with you.”
Okay, now, let’s look at a negative sentence.
“If I hadn’t had to work, I would have come to your birthday party!”
Here, we have a negative, “If I hadn’t had…” So here, this “had to,” this is expressing a responsibility, “If I hadn’t had to work…” So, “had not” followed by “had” might be tricky to say, “If I hadn’t had to work…” This means the speaker had to work, the speaker had the responsibility to work, but if this responsibility had not been there, if the speaker had not, did not in the past have this responsibility, the speaker says, “I would have come to your birthday party.” So again, the speaker is saying if this action had not happened, “If I had not had to come to work…,” my future action, “I would have come to your birthday party.” Again, not “will,” not “going to,” but “would” because it’s an unreal situation. This going to the speaker or the listener’s birthday party did not happen. The speaker wants to express regret that they were unable to come.
“If I hadn’t had to work, I would have come to your birthday party.”
Okay, let’s look at the next one, rather positive.
“If you’d told me about your plans, I might have been able to help you.”
Here, a point, I mentioned this for the first time in this sentence here, “If you’d…” This is a pronunciation point, a key pronunciation point with this grammar. We can also apply it to our main clause points as well, but for now, I have here “you’d.” So this “you’d” means “you had,” you had. The native speakers will reduce it to “you’d.” So this point right here, I’ve marked it on the end of this positive statement note. When possible, it sounds quite natural to reduce your positive statements to (subject) plus this apostrophe D sound.
“If you’d…”
“If we’d…”
“If he’d…”
“If she’d…”
“If I’d…”
So that doesn’t “would” in this case. It means “had” here.
“If I had…”
“If you had…”
So, in this case, “If you’d told me…”
“If you’d told me about your plans, I might have been able to help you.”
So this means, again, because it’s a positive, the speaker was not told anything. The speaker did not know about the listener’s plans. This did not happen. So the “if” that had happened, the speaker says, “I might have been able to help you.” So here, you’ll notice I’m not using “would” in this case. I’m using “might.” So, this changes the meaning specifically, not “I would have been able to help you.” We use “would” for something that we’re 100% sure was possible or would have been possible in the past. Here, we’re using a lower level of possibility, “I might have been able to help you.”
So, there’s a possibility, maybe, a lower possibility than “would,” so “It would have been possible for me to help you” is a different way to say, to say this sentence, but we use “might” to express that there’s a chance of something.
Okay, let’s continue on to this one, another negative.
“If ticket prices hadn’t been so high, we could have booked a longer vacation!”
“If ticket prices hadn’t been so high...” is my “if clause.” So here, again, that means here, negative, ticket prices were high, that’s what this means. Ticket prices were high, but if they had not been so high, we could have booked a longer vacation. So here, I’m using “could,” could, so this is different from “might” and from “would.” This means it would have been possible to book a longer vacation. This is also different from “might” like, “we might have booked a longer vacation” means like there is a chance. But this “could” shows us that it would have given us the ability, we would have been able to do something, we would have been able to book a longer vacation.
So not like a chance as in this case, there’s a chance I could have helped you is a different way to say that. But “could” refers to something that would have been possible, is another way to say that. It refers to possibility. So why not say that like, “If ticket prices hadn’t been so high, we would have booked a longer vacation.” So, “would,” using “would’ here would make it definite like 100% we would have booked a longer vacation. “Could” shows us just that it was kind of possible.
Using “might” here like we might have booked a longer vacation would imply that we’re not really sure. Maybe, we would have needed to think about it, something like that. So that makes, we have like this very subtle differences in meaning that are applied with “would” and “could” and “might.”
So, you can use “would” for something that would, like you definitely would have done in the past like 100% sure. In the negative, definitely would not have done in the past, like, “If ticket prices had been lower, we would not have come home so early,” for example. So, if ticket prices had been lower which they were not, we would not have come home so early, so that’s a different sentence, kind of the opposite of this one.
So, you can build lots of these, kind of unreal situations to talk about how things might have been different in the past. So, as I said, for more information about these points here, please check the other videos on the channel. I’ve made some videos specifically about these grammar points, so please take a look at those and if you have questions about those grammar points, please feel free to leave a comment on those videos and let us know.
If you have questions about the third conditionals, specifically how to make it, maybe differences in positioning of “main clause” and “if clause” and so on, please leave a comment on this video. So, I hope that this can help you understand how to create and how to understand third conditional sentences. If you like the video, please don’t forget to give it a thumbs up and also, feel free to just try to make some sentences in the comment section of the video. Thank you very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye!

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Hello Ronald, Tecson, Ahmed and Alexis,


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Ronald Tecson
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This is really helpful, thanks!😄😄

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Grate I'm understand now

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Something I don't understand

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