They would have come to the party if they knew where it was.

It sounds like a third conditional to me. Instead, I would say

They would have come to the party if they had known where it was.

However, a native speaker expressed the first sentence, hence it is probably correct. Nevertheless, I would like clarification.

1 Answer 1


You are correct. This sentence is dealing with a hypothetical or unreal past condition, and the "had known" form is technically required. But you will find that a significant number of native speakers ignore this requirement, and use a simple past form, here "knew". Indeed it may well be that usage will eventually change this rule so that the simple past becomes accepted for this purpose.

By the way, I know that the terms "first conditional", "second conditional" etc (or "type 1 conditional", "type 2 conditional" etc) are often used in teaching English to adults. But you will find that most native speakers have never heard any of these terms, and will be thoroughly confused by them. I for one, had never encountered them until I started posting on this site. One might argue whether the terms are helpful. But a learner should be prepared for native speakers not to recognize these terms.

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