I'm currently working on a review checklist of a technical document in the context of regulatory compliance (medical devices if that matters) which will serve as a record of the review activities. A common element of such a review checklist/record is to have some kind of final verdict at the end or as executive summary upfront. This verdict is often either a

  1. pass,
  2. not pass/fail,
  3. or a third option which lists some tasks to be completed to fix (minor) deviations uncovered during the review, but not enough to repeat the review in full (as would be the case for fail)1.

I'm looking for a succinct, idiomatic phrase for the third option. My research has surfaced the following:

Phrase Context
pass[ed] with [the following] obligations found it in templates for this type of document authored by German native speakers working as medical device consultants, also seems to be a thing in the UK when looking for permission from local authorities to build something
pass[ed] with conditions found use in academia for dissertation/thesis defense results and also the UK building thing again
pass[ed] with [minor|major] revisions mostly academia

My questions:

  • Are there any idiomatic options I've missed?
  • What phrase would you recommend?

FWIW: I tagged this with because we try to use American English in our technical documentation.



1: Well, strictly speaking it's a "fail", but it makes it feel less so.

  • 4
    Unless the context clearly implies otherwise, passed with obligations could be understood to mean something like 'it's OK to proceed, but you have to do it in this way', which is different from what you seem to have in mind ('it is not OK to proceed right now, but it will be as soon as you fulfill the conditions').
    – jsw29
    Commented Mar 19 at 21:37
  • In court it's called, 'Guilty with paperwork.' Haha, that's a fact. It's pending stipulations or whatever. Commented Mar 20 at 4:32
  • Are you trying to up-date what's gone before, or introduce your organisation to something entirely new, please? Commented Mar 24 at 22:40
  • @RobbieGoodwin: Sorry for the late reply. This is something entirely new for our organization.
    – AlexV
    Commented Mar 27 at 14:40
  • Answers like DJClayworth's are not necessarily correct, as shown by Mari-Lou A. This matters more as the Question title shows your level of comfort with technical English. Can you say how your three suggested Phrases are different, let alone usefully so? pass[ed] with [the following] obligations; …with conditions; …with [minor|major] revisions are almost identical in ordinary English. Any difference comes from what definitions your organisation chooses to use internally. A professional association might provide detailed advice. Commented Mar 27 at 19:22

6 Answers 6


It's called a conditional pass.

In other words the result is a pass, but there are conditions attached to it that must be fulfilled in order to get the pass.The main difference between a conditional pass and a fail is that if you resubmit after a conditional pass they only check that you have fulfilled the conditions. If you resubmit something after a fail the entire examination is done again. In the case of a safety inspection "conditional pass" the operation is allowed to continue while the conditions are being fulfilled.

This terminology is most commonly used in PhD exams and restaurant health inspections and other safety inspections, but it can be used in other circumstances as well.

  • 1
    The health dept case is a bit different, though. It means they can continue to operate, ie, aren't getting shut down, while the exceptions are handled. You probably wouldn't want to issue a conditional pass on a plumbing inspection and have the contractor fill in all the trenches or close in a building's walls.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Mar 19 at 13:09
  • Your findings confirm my research regarding the use of the phrase(s) in academia. The restaurant health inspection reference is very interesting. Thanks for that!
    – AlexV
    Commented Mar 19 at 13:39
  • 1
    If for some reason you don't like "conditional" / "with conditions", you could alternately also say "contingent approval" / "approval with contingencies". This is used in real estate. Commented Mar 20 at 3:54
  • 1
    Conditional offer is used in both business deals and higher education for the situation where something will go ahead if a condition is met.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 22 at 12:27
  • And as somebody trying to buy a condo, conditional approval is something you will very often get in response to a mortgage application. Commented Mar 22 at 13:57

To my ear, "pending" seems like a useful word here:

pass[ed] pending [xyz]

Of course, that still leaves you to find an adequate phrasing for the [xyz] part but that seems like something more context/field dependent where you'd - better than us - be in a position to decide whether words like conditions, obligations, revisions, corrections, rectifications, etc. would be a better fit for the types of issues that you encounter in your process.


"The pass is contingent on the following corrections:..."

The word sits somewhere between a dependency and a condition and thus fits quite nicely. The only hesitation I'd have is that it is likely not known to all speakers, even native ones.

From a software engineering standpoint I must agree with dubious: Is it really a pass? I suppose the category is for errors that are minor enough to ignore them for a while. The code can be incorporated "provisionally" (Stephan's suggestion), but it hasn't formally passed muster until the required corrections have been implemented.


I wouldn't argue conditional, but another similar and possibly different option is provisional.

Consider, "we will accept XYZ provided that conditions A, B and C are met." Thus the name.

  • 7
    Provisional pass does not convey quite the same idea as is expressed in the second paragraph. Saying that something received a provisional pass may be understood to mean that it will be treated as having passed for the time being, but that the matter will be revisited after the period for which the provisional pass is valid. The OP is, on the other hand looking for a term that means that it will be treated as having failed, until the specified conditions are met.
    – jsw29
    Commented Mar 19 at 21:28
  • 1
    +1, I've seen this phrase used very commonly in academic decision letters. I don't find the OP's usage example as connoting that the work should be considered a "fail" for the time being. A conditional acceptance with a clear path to full acceptance is conceptually much closer to a "pass" than a "fail". Commented Mar 20 at 15:43
  • @jsw29 pardon me if I'm being dense, but in the OP's table, each of the possibilities starts with the word, "pass," which, to me, indicates that it is a pass when conditions are met, not fail until conditions are met. This fits very squarely under every use of, "provisional[ly] pass," that I've ever encountered. Commented Mar 20 at 19:52
  • @StephanSamuel, as you yourself say: 'a pass when conditions are met' (but not before).
    – jsw29
    Commented Mar 20 at 20:19

Why call it a "pass" at all? You could make it simple and clear by saying

  • Needs change / revision / correction
  • Requires changes
  • Resubmit after addressing shortcomings / flaws
  • 5
    The point would be to inform the submitter that they don't have to go through the entire submission process again provided they comply with the exceptions noted in a prompt and acceptable manner. This can be important if resubmittal sends you to the back of the que (delays) and if there are fees associated with submittals.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Mar 19 at 12:18
  • 1
    @PhilSweet Thus the use of a phrase like "Needs revision." The consequences of accidentally implying that something like a medical device had passed review when it hasn't are sufficiently dangerous that it seems reasonable to avoid the situation entirely. Commented Mar 19 at 20:49

While the expression "unsatisfactory" may suggest a fail it is less emphatic, and does not rule out fulfilling the requirements at some point in the future.

  • 3
    Unsatisfactory is just another, perhaps slightly euphemistic, way of saying failed; it does not convey the idea that the pass is guaranteed as soon as the explicitly specified conditions are fulfilled
    – jsw29
    Commented Mar 19 at 21:46
  • @jsw29 This is a one-word solution that people will understand immediately. The details/results will be listed on the same page.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 19 at 22:02

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