For all conditional sentences there are two parts, the conditional clause (‘if’ clause) and the consequence clause (main clause).

The past unreal conditional / conditional unreal with the past / third conditional is formed with if + past perfect for the conditional clause and would have + past participle for the consequence clause.

If I had forgotten my homework, my teacher would have been angry.

If I had forgotten my homework (conditional / if clause),

my teacher would have been angry (consequence clause / main clause).

The third conditional is used to talk about a past imaginary situation and the possible outcomes of that imaginary situation. In reality the situation never occurred so it is ‘unreal’.

If I had studied something different in university, my life would have been very different.

If you had called me earlier, I would have picked him up.

The conditional clause can come first or second in a conditional sentence. If the conditional clause is first, a comma usually is put between the consequence and conditional clause. A comma usually isn’t needed when the consequence clause is first.

My teacher would have been angry if I had forgotten my homework.

If I had forgotten my homework, my teacher would have been angry.

Would have is most commonly used in the consequence clause. But could have, should have, or might have can also be used.

If the possible outcome of the imaginary situation is in the present we use the present conditional would + present tense.

If I had won the lottery, I would be rich.

Conditionals unreal with the past questions

  1. If you had played more sports, would you have become a professional athlete?
  2. Did you grow up in the countryside or the city? If you had grown up in the countryside/city, would you have been more or less successful?
  3. If you had been born in a different country, how would your life have been different?
  4. If you had studied harder, would your life be any different?
  5. If your country’s team had won the last world cup, what would you have done?
  6. What would you have done if you had won the last lottery?
  7. Where would you have moved if you hadn’t moved here?
  8. What would you have done if you had gotten lost during your last vacation?
  9. What type of music would you have sung if you had been a famous singer?
  10. What piece of knowledge would have changed your life if you had known it?
  11. If you had been born a different gender, would your personality be different?
  12. If you had been born 100 years ago, would your life have been better or worse?
  13. If your parents had been rich, how would your life be different now?
  14. If you hadn’t been born in your country, what country would you want to be from?
  15. What language would you have studied if you hadn’t studied English?
  16. What would be different if you had gotten different friends?
  17. Talk about a small decision that changed your life. What would have happened if you had made a different decision?