Mixed Conditional Sentences
What is mixed conditional, and how can we differentiate it from other conditional? To understand the concept of mixed conditional, let’s take an example.
How Mixed Conditional Different from Other Conditional?
If they do not come on time, they will miss the train.
What do you understand by this? They have planned to go somewhere by train, and if they do not come on time, they will miss it. This is the usual form of a conditional sentence called the real or first conditional.
So, in the mixed conditional, we do not mix the two clauses (the if and the result clause) in this common or usual form. Instead, we mixed up two different conditionals to make one conditional, which is called the mixed conditional. So, we could say
If they do not come on time, they will have missed the train.
Instead of will plus the main verb, we used will have plus past participle of the main verb. So, this sentence is the mixed conditional because it is not in the common form.
Second Conditional: If I had 500$ now,
Third Conditional: I would have bought this phone.
Mixed Conditional: If I had 500$ now, I would have bought this phone.
Definition of Mixed Conditional
A sentence that mixes two times that are different in the if/conditional-clause and in the main/result clause that works together is called a mixed conditional sentence. Let’s take another example of how it takes two different times.
If we had reached the school on time, we wouldn’t have missed the lecture.
Both these actions occur in the past, and we can’t change that situation now. To make this sentence mixed conditional, we must change one of the clauses to a different time. Let’s change the main clause from the past to the present.
If we had reached the school on time, we would be able to attend the lecture.
This sentence now takes two different times, i.e., the first clause is in the past perfect tense (which is third conditional), and the second clause is in the present simple tense (which is first conditional). We have mixed these two different forms and got another conditional called the mixed conditional.
Remember that any tense combination is possible in mixed conditional if the context permits it.
Further Examples of Mixed Conditional Sentences
- If I were you, I would have left her alone.
- If I weren’t afraid of those dogs, I wouldn’t have gone that way.
- If our dad were at home, he would have woken us up earlier.
- If the dad had more money, he would have bought many things.
- We would have invited her to dinner if she were good at cooking.
- When you leave the room, remember to switch off the computer.
- If we weren’t so busy, we would play cricket all day.
- We could be out with you today if we had finished our work sooner.
- If he had told me it was his son, I would have taken him to the school.
- If John had more money, he would buy some toys for his kid.
(John does not have more money, so he will not buy some toys for his kid.)
How do We Form a Mixed Conditional Sentences?
There are a few different ways to form them by mixing different tenses and times. The two combinations most commonly used to make mixed conditional are a past situation/action, a present result, and a present situation, and a past result. Like all other types of conditional sentences, we can change the order of the clauses in mixed conditional sentences.
(Past Actions + Present Results)
In this combination, the if clause takes the present perfect tense, and would/could + the bare infinitive of the verb is used in the main clause to describe an unreal outcome in the present of an imaginary situation in the past.
Form: If + Subject + Past Perfect Tense, Subject + Would/Could + Base Form
- If I had not left that job, I would not be here with you. (I am here with you now because I have left the job.)
- If she didn’t study English in college, she might face difficulties in a university course.
- If dad had saved some money, he would own this bike. (he can’t save money, so he didn’t own the bike)
- He wouldn’t fail the paper if he had learned the lesson well.
(Present Actions + Past Results)
This type of mixed conditional is used to describe a present unreal situation and an unreal outcome in the past. In this type, we use the simple past tense in the if-clause followed by would have or could have + the third form of the verb in the result clause.
Form: If + Subject + Past Simple, Subject + would/could + have + Past Participle
- If he were the best teacher (action in the present), he could have won the title of best teacher by now. (unreal result in the past).
- If she were deserved, she would have gotten that scholarship.
(But she does not deserve and that is why she didn’t get the scholarship.)
- If I understood Chinese, I would have read this storybook.
(But I do not understand the Chinese language, so I didn’t read the storybook.)
- If the player weren’t tired, he would have won the match.
- If he wasn’t so busy, he could have taught me.
- If we studied a little more, we would have secured good marks.
(Future Actions + Past Results)
This form of mixed conditional describes a hypothetical past result of future action.
- If my dad weren’t going away, I would have invited you.
- If we weren’t going on holiday next week, would you have come to my office today?
- If you weren’t watching a movie tonight, I would have suggested to read a storybook.
- If Jam were preparing for the final paper tomorrow, he would be coming for the game earlier.
(Past Actions + Past Results)
This combination is called the third conditional that talks about the past. In this combination, we use past perfect tense in the if-clause and would/could/might have plus the past participle of the verb in the result clause.
Form: If + Subject + Past Perfect, Subject + would/could/might + have + Past Participle
- If you had studied harder in school, you would have gotten into this university.
(But you didn’t study harder so you could not get)
- We could have taken him to the conference room if we had met him earlier.
- If Julia had won the lottery, she might have married her cousin.
(Past Actions + Future Results)
This combination of mixed conditional describes the action that happened in the past and its result in the future.
- If we had been gone there, they would be leaving the room at once.
- If your brother hadn’t taught me, I would be joining a tuition academy.
- If the professor hadn’t left the office, he would be helping me with this research paper.
- If we hadn’t missed the train, we would be attending the event this morning.
- If he hadn’t lost his certificate, he would be taking admission in the USA next year.
(Future Actions + Present Results)
- If I were giving an interview tomorrow, I would be delighted today.
- If the children weren’t going to school, they would have gone to the beach with you this morning.
- If Ahmad and Subhan were going to be enrolled in the course, they would be saving money.
- If we had a paper next week, we would be studying for it today.
(Present Actions + Future Results)
- If I were there, I would apologize to him.
- We would attend the film show next month if we had more money.
(But we don’t have more money, so we will not attend the film show)
- If Sara were at home, she would prepare a delicious cake for my birthday party on Monday.
(But she isn’t in-home, so she will not prepare a cake for us)
Note: It’s always okay to put either of the clauses last.