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  1. If I studied, I wouldn't fail the exam

  2. If I had studied, I wouldn't have failed the exam

What is the difference between the two? Please explain.

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  • I feel the first sentence is grammatically wrong. The send is definitely correct. Commented May 2, 2016 at 9:58
  • @AkashVartak There is nothing wrong with either of the sentences.
    – vickyace
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 10:01
  • The first part of statement 1 feels a bit odd: If I studied Commented May 2, 2016 at 10:04
  • The difference is temporal (to do with the time of the situation) and modality. Your first example refers to present time. Don't be fooled by the use of past tense "studied"; it has nothing to with past time but modality; it presents your studying as a more remote possibility than, say, If I study. In your second example, the past perfect tense sets the situation firmly in past time
    – BillJ
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 10:51

1 Answer 1

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Both sentences are right but here is the difference:

  • Sentence: 1- If I studied, I wouldn't fail the exam , is the type 2 conditional which is used to refer to a hypothetical condition,unrealistic, and its probable result( condition in theory possible to fulfill.) In the second conditional sentences we speculate about situations that will probably never happen at present or in future. Example :
  • If I had more time, I would help you. (But I am not free at the moment. I can't help you).

  • If I won a million dollars, I would start a business of my own. (But I know that it is not realistic.)

  • Sentence (2)- If I had studied, I wouldn't have failed the exam ,is the type 3 conditional which is used to refer to a time that is in the past, and a situation that is contrary to reality. The type 3 conditional is used to refer to an unreal past condition and its probable past result.We speculate about situations that happened or did not happen in the past. Examples :

  • If I had won a million, I would have started a business of my own. (But I didn't win anything.)

  • If he had met her, he would have told her. (Unfortunately, he didn't meet her.) If we hadn't practised, we wouldn't have won the match. (But we practised and won.)

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