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Third Conditional Discussion Questions (100+ Questions for English Conversation Practice)

Updated: Sep 15, 2023


Discussion Questions with Third Conditional
100+ Third Conditional Conversation Questions

This page is intended to be a resource for English learners and teachers. You can practice answering these third conditional discussion questions by yourself or with a partner. You can also write the answers in a notebook, in a digital document, or in the comments section below. To help learners feel more confident and to develop grammatical accuracy, the warm-up questions have some suggested answer beginnings, which make them ideal for beginner or intermediate learners. For more challenging questions, move on to the "Let's go!" section.


Recommended levels: Upper Intermediate / Advanced


Grammar reminder

The third conditional is used to discuss past hypothetical (or "unreal") situations. It has a variety of uses, including expressing past regrets, past wishes, and possibilities.


Typically, the third conditional uses the following structure:

"If" clause + result clause

If + subject + past perfect (had + past participle), subject + would (not) have/could (not) have/might (not) have + past participle


Example: "If I'd known you needed money, I would have lent you some." (In speaking, the "had" part of the past perfect is often contracted, as in "If I'd known," "If we'd left earlier," etc.)


These two clauses can be inverted, and the "if" clause can sometimes be implied, meaning you don't need to directly mention it in some third conditional cases. Oh, and don't forget that you can add adverbs like "probably" and "maybe" before "would have" and "could have" to make it less certain. In short, there are many ways to form third conditional questions and answers, which you will see in the questions below.


So, here we go...


Warm-up

If you'd had more free time yesterday, what would you have done?

If I'd had more free time yesterday, I would have / might have / could have...


What is something that you might have bought if it had been cheaper?

If it had been cheaper, I might have bought...


If you had practiced it more, what is something you think you could've been pretty good at?

If I had practiced more, I think I could've been pretty good at...


If you'd had private teachers when you were younger, do you think your life would have been different in any way?

If I'd had private teachers when I was younger, I would have / might have / could have...


How would your life have been different if you had never started studying English?

If I had never started studying English, I might (not) have / could (not) have / would (not) have...


If you had woken up earlier this morning, what would you have done with the extra time?

If I had woken up earlier this morning, I...


Do you think you would have become a different person if your family had moved to Miami, Florida when you were a child?

If my family had moved to Miami, Florida when I was a child,...


What would you have done differently if you had known about the 2020 pandemic in advance?

If I had known about the pandemic in advance, I...


If you hadn't taken that job offer, where do you think you would've worked instead?

If I hadn't taken that job offer, I probably would've worked (at/for)...


If you had pursued a career in music, what instrument would you have chosen?

If I had pursued a career in music, I probably would've played (the)...



Let's go!

What would you have done if you had discovered that you had a special talent when you were younger?


If a particular person hadn't influenced your life, how would your personal values have been different?


If you had accidentally broken your friend's phone, what would you have said to them?


If you could've ordered any food you wanted as a kid, what would you usually have ordered?


If you hadn't gone to your last vacation destination, where would you have gone instead?


If you hadn't read a particular book or watched a particular movie in the past, how would your interests or perspectives been different?


What would you have liked to do if you'd had one extra hour of free time each day?


If you hadn't chosen your current career path or academic path, what would you have chosen instead?


If you hadn't moved to your current location, where do you think you would've gone instead?


If you hadn't pursued your current interests, what do you think would have captured your interest instead?


Think of a major challenge you had to overcome. If you hadn't overcome that challenge, do you think your character would've suffered as a result?


If you hadn't joined a particular club, organization, or group, what other group might have interested you?


If you had been born 100 years earlier, how would your life have been different?


If you could've helped one person more when you were younger, whom would you have helped?



If you had been in their shoes, what would you have done?

Just like the second conditional, you can use the third conditional for advice. However, since the situation is already finished, you can only imagine what you would've done if you had been in someone else's position.


Imagine these scenarios and answer with "If I had been in his/her/their shoes, I would've/might've..."


Your co-worker was in a car accident because they had drunk alcohol and still decided to drive their car.


Your friend got sick because she went outside in the cold without wearing a jacket.


Your dad yelled at and hit his boss, so he lost his job.


Your friend stayed with their boyfriend/girlfriend for six more months even after they found out that their partner had cheated on them.


Your brother decided to go on an expensive vacation even though he owed his credit card company a lot of money.



How would the world have been different if...?

Just like the second conditional can be used to consider present and future possibilities, we can use the third conditional to consider possible pasts. Think about the following questions carefully. How would the world have been different if these things had happened or hadn't happened?


How would the world have been different if...

  • electricity had never been discovered?

  • the internet had never been invented?

  • cars hadn't been invented?

  • Gandhi hadn't led non-violent protests again British rule in India?

  • Germany had won World War 2?

  • airplanes had never been invented?


If it hadn't been for...

"If it hadn't been for" means "If this event/person/thing hadn't been a part of my life, things would have been different." Another way to think of this is to say "Without this event/person/thing." For example, "If it hadn't been for you, I wouldn't have become interested in cinema." This means "Without you, I wouldn't have become interested in cinema." Finish the sentences.


If it hadn't been for the accident,...


If it hadn't been for my parents,...


If it hadn't been for my sixth grade music teacher,...


If it hadn't been for my boss,...


If it hadn't been for my friends,...


If it hadn't been for the internet,...



What would you have done if...? / Do you think you would've...? / If you hadn't...

Visualize the following situations and answer them appropriately. Use your imagination.


What would you have done if your boss hadn't given you a raise last month?


If you had known that your brother was in town, would you have invited him to dinner?


Do you think your team would've won if the star player hadn't gotten injured in the first half of the game?


If your sister hadn't been allergic to dogs, do you really think your parents would've got you one for a pet?


If you hadn't discovered that you really enjoy jogging, what other activity do you think you would've started doing?


What would you have done if you hadn't had to go to work last week?


What would you have done if you had found out sooner that (your friend) Jack had lied to you?


Do you think you would've done anything differently if you had known that your decision would be this important?


What would you have done if the weather had been nicer last week?


What would you have done if someone had bought you a dog instead of a cat?


If you had missed your flight, what would you have done?


What would you have done if your house had been burned down by the fire?


What would your sister have done if you hadn't lent her money to pay her rent?


Do you think you would've won the race if you hadn't twisted your ankle?


What would you have done if the company had offered you a million dollars to work in another country for 5 years?


If you hadn't met him, do you think your life would've been better?


Do you think you would've stayed single if you hadn't married your current spouse?


Do you think you would've been happier if your family had had more money when you were a kid?


If you hadn't taken that public speaking course, do you think you still would've been a good public speaker?


If you hadn't been so introverted when you were a kid, do you think you would've made more friends? Would you have wanted to?



If you'd had the chance,... / Do you wish you'd had the chance...

We can use the third conditional to talk about past regrets or things we wish we had done differently. Sometimes, we did not have the resources or opportunities to make things happen. In these cases, we can consider what we would have done if we had had the chance or opportunity to do something. Answer the questions below with your own ideas.


If you'd had the chance, would you have...

  • traveled more when you were younger?

  • moved to another city, town, village, or country?

  • gone to a different school / college / university?

  • signed up for more activities or classes? (Ex. music lessons, martial arts, public speaking, etc.)

  • spent more time on a particular interest? (Ex. swimming, art, reading, etc.)

  • gone to more parties?


It would've been nice if...

You can use "It would've been" + an adjective to express past regrets or wishes. For example, "It would've been great if you'd been able to attend my graduation." Complete the sentences below. Use the past perfect after the "if" clause. If you're working with a speaking partner, take turns.

  • It would've been nice if...

  • It would've been unfortunate if...

  • It would've been great if...

  • Things would've been different if...

  • It would've been sad if...


Giving Reasons and Explanations for Past Decisions and/or Actions

Finish the answers with your own ideas.


Why didn't you call me last night? I was free.

If I had known you were free, I...


Hey, sorry to hear that you quit your job. Why didn't you stay?

Well, if they hadn't frozen my salary, I...


Why did you miss your dental appointment? It was at 8 a.m.

If I hadn't slept through my alarm, I... (to "sleep through one's alarm" means to continue sleeping even though your alarm activated at its programmed time)


I thought you really wanted that car. Why didn't you buy it?

The price after tax was just too much. If they had lowered the price a bit, I...


Why are you so tired today?

I couldn't fall asleep. I think that if I hadn't had a coffee at 6 o'clock, I...


Why were you and Max late?

We took too long to get ready in the morning. If we'd left the house earlier, we...



Implied Third Conditionals pt.1

You don't always need an "if" clause to be directly stated to use the third conditional. For example, you can say "You could've told me sooner" if someone gives you information that would have been helpful at an earlier time. In this case, the implied conditional in this case could be "if you had wanted my help" or "if this had been truly important to you."


Another common structure is making past wishes with the past perfect. For instance, "I wish we had gone camping," "I wish we could've gone camping," or "I wish we would've gone camping." In this case, the implied conditional could be "if it had been an option" or "if we'd had more time."


What's a place that you would've liked to go to when you were younger?

I would've liked to go to... / I would've liked to have gone to... (both are possible)


Who's someone that you would've loved to meet when you were a kid? (Implied: "if it had been possible")

I would've loved to meet... / I would've loved to have met...


Why didn't you go on vacation last year?

I would've gone on vacation last year, but...


Could you have gone to see a movie last night? (Implied: "if you'd had the time/money/etc.")

Yeah, I could've gone to see a movie last night, but...


What's something that you wish you hadn't or had done?

I wish I hadn't... / I wish I had...



Imagine... (Implied Third Conditionals pt.2)

Imagine that a waiter served you a bland meal at a restaurant. What could the chef have done to make your dish more flavourful?


Imagine that you lost your job because you were always late for work. How could you have prevented this from happening?


Imagine that you got a speeding ticket. What could you have done to prevent this?


Imagine that you need to ask your family to lend you money because you were irresponsible with your finances. What could you have done to prevent this situation?


Imagine that your best friend told you that they stole food because they had no money. Would you have done the same thing in their shoes? ("In their shoes" means "in their situation/position/etc.")



Would you have done anything differently?

"Would you have done anything differently?" is one of the most common third conditional questions. It is synonymous with "Do you wish you had done anything differently?" Think about different moments and events in your life. Looking back, would you have done anything differently? Or, when you really think about it, would you say "I wouldn't have changed a thing." Think about things like:

  • past job decisions

  • past relationship decisions

  • past socializing decisions

  • past purchase decisions

  • past time management decisions

  • past moving decisions

If you're satisfied with the decisions you made in the past, justify them by using this structure: "If I had(n't) X, then I would(n't) have Y." For example: "If I hadn't quit my old job, I wouldn't have met my wife."



If you had known then what you know now....

This is a continuation of the "Would you have done anything differently?" questions above. "If you had known then what you know now" is another common third conditional question structure. It asks about an impossibility: If you'd had your PRESENT knowledge IN THE PAST, would you have done anything differently? So...


If you had known then what you know now,...

  • would you have taken a different academic or career path?

  • would you have spent your free time differently?

  • would you have made different friends?

  • would you have taken more risks?

  • would you have continued living where you were living?

  • would you have changed your diet or exercised more?

  • would you have spent less time arguing with people?


Inverted Third Conditionals

You can make third conditionals more formal by changing "If you had" into "Had you." For example, instead of saying "If you hadn't made that decision, the company would have suffered," you can say "Had you not made that decision, the company would have suffered." These are called inverted conditionals. Answer the questions with this form.


Had you woken up earlier last Sunday, what would you have done?

Had I woken up earlier last Sunday, I...


Had you found this website earlier, how would it have affected your English learning?

Had I found this website earlier,...


Had you known that sooner, would you have told me? (Imagine a scenario for this one)

Had I known that sooner, I...


Had you been aware of the news, would you have made the same decision? (Imagine a scenario)

Had I been aware of the news, I...


Had you known it was going to rain, would you have brought an umbrella?

Had I known it was going to rain, I...



That's it! Thank you for learning and practicing your English with me. To continue improving your English, and to support my work, consider purchasing a PDF, e-Book, or paperback version of one of my books. All of them are written with English learners in mind. In particular, 300 Practical English Words and Phrases is full of useful language, including detailed explanations of how to use filler and transition words such as "anyway," "so," and "well." Check it out!

Until next time, I wish you success, and I hope to see you again soon!

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