Third conditional for imaginary situations in the past

You will study how to talk about imaginary or imposible facts in the past, and their probable consequences.


Third conditional for imaginary situations in the past

Prehistoric finds in South Africa

"Australophitecus africanus, cast of the Taung child". Fuente: Didier Descouens (2013), Wikimedia Commons.

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

If I had known more about Prehistoric Africa, I would have passed the history course.

Now I know South Africa contains some of the oldest archaelogical and human fossil sites in the world, ant extensive fossil remains have been recovered from a series of caves in Gauteng Province. The sites include Sterkfontein, which is one of the richest hominin fossil sites in the world. Other sites include Swartkrans, Gondolin Cave Kromdraai, Coopers Cave and Malapa. The first hominin fossil discovered in Africa, the Taung Child was found near Taung in 1924. Further hominid remains have been recovered from the sites of Makapansgat in Limpopo, Cornelia and Florisbad in the Free State, Border Cave in KwaZulu-Natal, Klasies River Mouth in Eastern Cape and Pinnacle Point.

South Africa. Retrieved July, 2017 from

Getting started: Bantu expansion

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

Settlements of Bantu-speaking people, who were iron-using agriculturists and herdsmen, were already present south of the Limpopo River (now the northern border with Botswana and Zimbabwe) by the 4th or 5th century CE (current era). They displaced, conquered and absorbed the original Khoisan speakers, the Khoikhoi and San peoples. The Bantu slowly moved south. The earliest iron works in modern-day KwaZulu-Natal Province are believed to date from around 1050. The southernmost group was the Xhose people, whose language incorporates certain linguistic traits from the earlier Khoisan people. The Xhose reached the Great Fish River, in today’s Easter Cape Province. As they migrated, these larger Iron Age population displaced or assimilated earlier peoples. In Mpumalanga, several stone circles have been found along with the stone arrangement that has been named Adam’s Calendar.

South Africa. Retrieved July, 2017 from

Bantu-speaking people

Instructions: Choose T (true) of F (false) for the following statements.

Settlements of Bantu speaking people knew how to use gunpowder.

They were already present south of the Limpopo River by 1st century CE.

They displaced and were absorbed by the original Khoisan speakers, the Khoikhoi and San peoples.

The Bantu rapidly moved north.

The Xhose people reached Madagascar.

Let’s learn about the Third conditional for imaginary situations in the past.

Instructions: Read about the third conditional for imaginary situations in the past.

  • We use the third conditional to talk about Imaginary situations that did not happen in the past.


    • If my father had studied abroad, he would have married a different woman.
    • If he had married a different woman, I would have been a different person.
  • The third conditional is also used to express no possibility in the past.


    • If I had won the lottery, I would have gone to Europe.
    • If I had gone to Europe, I would have met a lot of interesting people.

Look at the word order:

IF conditional clauseResult clause
Subject + had + Past perfect + Complement.Subject + would + have + Past Participle of verb + C.
If I had studied more,I would have got a better grade.
If he had played football, they would have won the match.


  • The IF clause can be first or second in the sentence. Use a comma when the if clause is first.
  • Sometimes, we use should have, could have or might have instead of would have.


    • If he had bought a lottery ticket, he might have won a lot of money.


European contact

Instructions: Complete the sentences with the correct form of the verbs in parenthesis.

  1. If Bantu speaking peoples (not migrate) from other parts of Africa, history would have been different.
  2. If Spaniards (arrive) before Portuguese to South Africa, people would have spoken Spanish there.
  3. If English people (discover) Cabo de buena Esperanza, they would have called it “Cape of Good Hope”.
  4. If no European (go) to South Africa, they would have been happier.
  5. If racism (not exist), people all over the world could have lived better.
done Check


Dutch colonization

Instructions: Drag and drop the words to make third conditional sentences.

English and Dutch merchants wouldn’tIf Portugal’s maritimehave reached South Africa’s coastshadn’t declined by the early 17th century,
of provisions as early as 1601,had alternative ports of refugeBritish East India Company hadn’t called sporadically If the representatives of theat the Cape in searchthey wouldn’t have
got thereIf two employeeshadn’t been shipwreckedthe Dutch wouldn’tof the Dutch East India Companyin South Africa for several months,
got fresh water The sailorsif they hadn’tand meat from the nativeswould have died,
If they hadn’tgone to a different placeon the Cape’s potential,reported favourablyHolland would have


British Colonization

Instructions: Choose the best option for each sentence.

  1. If Great Britain had occupied / hadn’t occupied Cape Town between 1795 and 1803 they wouldn’t have prevented / would have prevented it from falling under the control of the French First Republic.
  2. If the French First Republic had invaded / hadn’t invaded the Low Countries they wouldn’t have been / would have been in war with the British. 
  3. If the Dutch had ruled / hadn’t ruled in a different place, The British would have occupied / wouldn’t have occuppied the land first.
  4. If Napoleon hadn’t been defeated / had been defeated, France wouldn’t have ceded / would have ceded the land to to Great Britain.
  5. If France hadn’t ceded / had ceded South Africa, it would have become / wouldn’t have become an integral part of the British Empire.
done Check