Third conditional to describe what you would have done different

You will study one of the most common uses of third conditional.


Third conditional to describe what you would have done different

The Anglo-Boer / South African War

Imagen: Boers at Spion Kop ca.1900, Project Gutenberg, Wikimedia Commons.

Instructions:Read the text. Look at the words in bold.

If I had read more about the Second Boer War, I would have known more about it.

The Second Boer War (11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902) was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic (Republic of Transvaal) and the Orange Free State, over the Empire’s influence in South Africa. It is also known variously as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, South African War or Anglo-Boer South African War. Initial Boer attacks were successful and though British reinforments later reversed these, the war continued for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures brought them to terms.

Second Boer War Retrieved July, 2017 from

Getting started: The British Army

Instructions: Read the text. Then do the activity suggested.

The war started with Britain overconfident and under-prepared. The Boers were very well armed and struck first, besieging Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mafeking in early 1900, and winning important battles at Calenso, Magersfontein and Stormberg. Staggered, Britain brought in large numbers of soldiers and fought back. General Redvers Buller was replaced by Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener. They relieved the three besieged cities, and invaded the two Boer republics in late 1900.The onward marches of the British Army were so overwhelming that the Boers did not fight staged battles in defense of their homeland. Britain quickly seized control of all the Orange Free State and Transvaal, as the civilian leadership went into hiding or exile. In conventional terms, the war was over. Britain officially annexed the two countries in 1900, and called a “khaki election” to give the government another six years of power in London. Britain’s military efforts were aided by Cape Colony, the Colony of Natal and some native African Allies, and further supported by volunteers from the British Empire, including Southern Africa, the Australian colonies, Canada, India and New Zealand. All other nations were neutral, but public opinion in them was largely hostile to Britain. Inside Britain and its Empire there also was significant opposition to the Second Boer War.

Second Boer War. Retrieved July, 2017 from

Britain’s efforts

Instructions: Match the two halves of the sentences.

a. Britain would have not invaded the two Boer republics in late 1900.b. it would not have annexed the Boer republics in 1900.c. it would not have fought backd. Britain would have defeat them at Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mafeking in early 1900.e. the republics would have resisted invasion

1. If the Boers hadn’t been well armed _______________

2. If Britain hadn’t brought in large numbers of soldiers _______________

3. If Lord Robert and Lord Kitchener hadn’t replaced General Redvers Buller _______________

4. If Britain had hesitated to control Orange Free State and Transvaal _______________

5. If Britain had listened international opinion _______________

Let’s study the Third conditional to describe what you would have done different.

Instructions: Read about the Third conditional to describe what you would have done different.

We also use the Third conditional to describe what you would have done differently.


  • If I had been you, I would not have gone to that party.
  • If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have drunk so much.


The Anglo-Boer / South African war

Instructions: Complete the following senteces with the appropriate form of the verbs in parenthesis to form the third conditional.

1. If I had been Boer, I (not start) a war.

2. If I had been British, I (support) the republic.

3. If I had been in the Boer war, I (not incarcerate) black people in racially segregated camps.

4. If I had been British, I (extend) civil and political rights to black people.

5. If I had been African, I (choose) a self-governing authority after de Boer war.

done Check



Instructions: Unscramble the following words to make third conditional sentences.

South African in the country’s economic lifeIf I for an increasing participationhad beenI would have fought
into the urban and If I had beenindustrial society of South African peopleEuropean,I would have integrated19th century
I would have integrated separatist churchesIf I had participatedChristianity and in the government,in political assertion
local South African chiefsIf I had been I would not to control thehave attemptedpart of the government,
the protestI would have supported against discriminatory lawsIf I had been British,



Instructions: Choose the most suitable form to make third conditional sentences.

1. If I had been / hadn't been British, I wouldn't have been / I would have been authoritarian.

2. If I hadn't participated / had participated in the ANC Youth League, I would have been / I wouldn't have been a leader such as Nelson Mandela.

3. If I had participated / hadn't participated in mass politics, I wouldn't have started / I would have started a mass mobilisation.

4. If I had been / hadn't been iin the First World War, I would have faced / I wouldn't have faced post-war economic difficulties.

done Check