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I read a sentence in a book, as following:

This feature is useful when constructing Boolean expressions in which we first test that a certain condition holds (such as reference not being None), and then test a condition that could have otherwise generated an error condition had the prior test not succeeded.

I could not understand the bold in the sentence in the way of grammar. I think it should be " an error condition that can have the prior test not succeeded", am I right?

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The part in bold means: "if the prior test had failed."

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    q23.us, if you want to leave something short and without documentation, as you jotted down here, it's best to do so as a comment rather than as an answer. (In this case, since the question turned out to be a duplicate, perhaps the best thing would be to delete your answer.) – aparente001 Mar 26 '17 at 19:08
  • Sorry, I thought for a difficulty of parsing a phrase it was sufficient to answer with an easier paraphrase. What sort of documentation would be appropriate? – q23.us Mar 26 '17 at 20:43
  • I could look for documentation, but then I would have the material for an answer. I can provide suggestions where you might look, though: dictionary definitions for "had," manual of style maybe.... // I saw your answer in a queue of answers that some participants found lacking, and felt that it would be kind to let you know. This site is rather particular about answers needing documentation. If you don't feel you have enough material for an answer, it's generally okay to provide help to the OP through a comment. // You'll get the hang of ELU with practice. – aparente001 Mar 26 '17 at 20:53
  • I mean in general, how would one go about documenting the meaning of a phrase like that? Are you suggesting a link to an English grammar reference? – q23.us Mar 26 '17 at 20:56
  • Yes. I forgot to say, in addition to dictionaries and manuals of style, you can also try looking in good grammar sites. I think part of the reason for this community encouraging documentation in answers is that it models research about grammar, vocabular, etc., for those who ask questions. – aparente001 Mar 26 '17 at 21:00

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