# Which tense fits the context best? (“would win” or “won”)

Which tense fits the context best?

The Super Grocery Store organized a competition for kids. Whoever could guess the correct number of jellybeans in the big jar, would win a prize.

The Super Grocery Store organized a competition for kids. Whoever could guess the correct number of jellybeans in the big jar, won a prize.

I borrowed this piece of text from a book for exam preparation. The answer can be anything as long as it fits the context. In our case, we have the verb «to win» to transform. Some more information to continue the story: « There were exactly 372 jellybeans. Two children guessed the right answer. They were Jorey Smith and Harry Hopkins.»

• You need to add two more pieces of infomation. "What do you think the correct answer is?" "Why do you think that?" – James K Apr 27 '19 at 15:42
• I borrowed this piece of text from a book for exam preparation. The answer can be anything as long as it fits the context. In our case we have the verb «to win» to transform. Some more information to continue the story: « There were exactly 372 jellybeans. Two children guessed the right answer. They were Jorey Smith and Harry Hopkins.» – Appolinaria Apr 27 '19 at 18:07
• Either tense can be used. Neither is best, so it's a matter of personal opinion. – Jason Bassford Apr 28 '19 at 16:43
• Which one would be the best option up to you? Why? – Appolinaria Apr 28 '19 at 16:52

I think it is the best to relate this with conditionals. So, Second conditional, If 'whoever' could guess, 'whoever' would win a prize. If + past simple, would + base verb. (general formula of second conditional)

Hence, Whoever could guess the correct number of jellybeans in the big jar, would win a prize.

Both forms of the verb are correctly formed.

"Would win" is a conditional form.

"Won" is a past tense form.

Both of these tenses could be used in this context. The second if you are talking about a past situation in which the outcome is known.

You would use the first if you don't want to imply this kind of certainty about the outcome, perhaps because the outcome isn't yet known.

As is often the case, both are correct, but mean slightly different things. I would also ask if "could guess" should not be changed to "guessed", especially when using the conditional "would win".