Unlike the other unreal conditional sentences which refer to the same time: the present, the future, or the past, MIXED CONDITIONALS are those unreal conditional sentences whose time in the “if-clause” is different than the time in the “main clause”.
There are two types of mixed conditionals:
1. Present result of past condition
This type of mixed conditional refers to an unreal past condition and its probable result in the present. It expresses a situation which is contrary to reality both in the past and present.
IF CLAUSE (If + Past perfect), MAIN CLAUSE (Present conditional)
• If we had looked at the map, we wouldn’t be lost
[In reality: We didn’t look at the map (past reality). As the result, we are lost (present reality).]
• If I had studied harder at school, I would have a better job now.
[In reality: I didn’t study harder at school. As the result, I haven’t got a good job.]
2. Past result of present or continuing condition
This type of mixed conditional refers to an unreal present situation and its probable (but unreal) past result. The time in If-clause is now or always and the time in main clause is before now.
IF CLAUSE (If + Simple past), MAIN CLAUSE (Perfect conditional)
• If she weren’t afraid of flying, she wouldn’t have travelled by boat.
[In reality: She is afraid of flying (present reality) and that’s why she travelled by boat (past reality).]
• If I were a good cook, I’d have invited them to dinner.
[In reality: I’m not a good cook. That’s why I didn’t invite them to dinner.]