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This is the second conditional " If you read more you would know what "word" means." so I can't use it to talk about the past.

"If you had read more you would know what "word" means." I believe this is more correct but I don't know if it's natural. example:

Bob: ..."word"...

Jack: What does "word" mean?.

Bob: If you had read more you would know what it means, it means...

Jack: Now I understand.

  • Are you asking which is more natural? Although "had read" is probably the more grammatical of the two, both are perfectly fine. Note that in your first example, "read" could be either simple past or simple present, so there are three ways to say it, all OK. – Andrew Sep 8 '17 at 2:22
  • Yes, the first sentence is with the past of "read" and it's a second conditional we can't use it to talk about the past ( if you read more you would know ) even if the verb is in the past the sentence talk about the hypothetical future, that's why I believe had read is more natural and mot comprehensible. – Answerplease Sep 8 '17 at 2:54
  • sammy gerbil's answer explains this. "Read", in the past tense, in this context, refers to a habitual practice, i.e. "If you were in the habit of reading books more often, you would understand". It's not actually talking about a past event. Unfortunately this is one of those odd combinations of grammar and idiom that your textbook won't cover. – Andrew Sep 8 '17 at 4:37
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Yes you can use the phrase to talk about the past. Read can be the simple present tense ("reed") or the simple past tense ("red"). The latter includes the notion of something you did habitually in the past and continue doing in the present.

So it is not necessary to include had. It is not wrong to use it. The meaning here is that your past reading habit, not your continuing habit, is the reason why you know.

  • Well If I ask someone what's the meaning of something and he tells me " If you read more you would know " I'll think that he's talking about the future but if he says " if you had read more you would know " I'll think that he's saying that if I had read more in the past I would know (now when i'm talking with him). that's why I don't think using read without had is correct.. because it gives a second conditional. – Answerplease Sep 8 '17 at 2:58

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