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Let's say a cellular network has provided you a link to go to for claiming a reward. However, you are uncertain that this will go well. Planning ahead, you say:

If this doesn't work then I will go to the other link that was provided.

What I am unclear about is how to decide between will and would here, and the other parts of the sentence are adding to my confusion. How do I choose between this/that, doesn't/didn't, was/has been?

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If this doesn't work then I will go to the other link that was provided.

This is good, and I think it is what you want. You are speaking about your current plan.

If that doesn't work then I would go to the other link that has been provided.

This is a valid sentence, but I don't think this is what you are trying to do. In this use, you have just given advice to a listener about how to do something, and your listener is going to make an attempt at it. You are giving him advice about what to do if that advice does not work, by specifying what you would do in that situation.

We could say "If this..." here, instead of "If that..." - the difference is in how close the speaker feels to the strategy being suggested, if you follow my meaning. If both the speaker and the listener are working on the problem closely together, use "this". Using "that" puts some distance between the approach being suggested and the speaker. In many cases, they are interchangeable, but if the listener is going home to try the suggested approach, or waiting until later to do it, use "that".

If that hadn't worked, then I would have gone to the other link that was provided.

This is correct, and the speaker is narrating his thought process during a situation that has happened in the past.

There are some degrees of freedom in all of these, but I'll point out a couple in the most recent case:

If that didn't work, then I would have gone to the other link that was provided.

is functionally the same (with a subtle distinction of bringing the conditional statement more into the present), similarly to how

If that hadn't worked, then I would have gone to the other link that had been provided

is fair, but perhaps makes an odd, very vague distinction about when the company provided the link. I imagine some speakers and some rule systems will have definite ideas about what is best in some of these, but the most important thing is to get the tense right in the main part of the sentence - e.g. "then I would have gone", - and smoothing over any conflicts with your "this"/"that" choice and related elements of the sentence.

And one more thing - you could simplify some problems by just saying "the link provided" in all the above cases.

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  • Hello, the situation is at present, you are talking to yourself about your future plan. So which verb tense should I use then? Doesn't or didn't? – John Arvin 3 hours ago Delete – John Arvin May 16 '19 at 13:59
  • Hi. I think you want "doesn't" - your first guess is right. I made an edit to the explanation after my second block quote which might help you understand how these hypothetical situations work. Also you might try searching for "past modal verbs" or "modals of lost opportunity", to see if something sparks an understanding. – Justin Stafford May 16 '19 at 14:44

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