On this page, you will learn about the
For example, imagine that you missed a train (and as a result you were late for an important meeting). You could say:
- If I hadn't missed the train, I wouldn't have been late for the meeting.
Do you know what tenses each of the clauses is in? Let's see:
- The verb in the if-clause is in the Past Perfect Tense
- The verb in the main clause is in the Perfect Conditional
|If I hadn't missed the train,||I wouldn't have been late for the meeting.|
- If I had known that you were coming, I would have met you at the railway station. (But I didn't know that you were coming so I didn't come)
- If he had tried to leave the country, he would have been stopped at the frontier. (But he didn't try)
The form of the conditional can be a little different.
a) could or might may be used instead of would:
- If the rescue crew had found him earlier, they could have saved his life. (ability)
- If the rescue crew had found him earlier, they might have saved his life. (possibility)
- If we had the necessary documents, we could have left at once. (ability or permission)
b) The continuous form of the Perfect Conditional may be used:
- If I had had any money I would have been watching the film with my girlfriend that evening.
c) We can use the Past Perfect Continuous in the if-clause:
- I wasn't wearing a seat belt. If I had been wearing one, I wouldn't have been seriously injured.
d) A combination of types 2 and 3 is possible:
- The airplane I intended to catch crashed. If I had caught that airplane, I would have been killed or I would be dead now(type 3)
- If he had worked harder at school, he would be working in a comfortable office now; he wouldn't be sweeping the streets. (But I didn't work hard at school and now he is sweeping the streets.)
e) Using inversion, we can place "had" before the subject, omitting the "if": For example, instead of saying:
- If you had obeyed orders this disaster would not have happened.
we can say:
- Had you told me about your problems, this disaster would not have happened.