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I was learning about conditionals and saw these sentences:

If he had studied harder, he would have passed the exam.

The fans would be miserable now if their team had been relegated.

My question is what's the difference between "If ... had ..., ... would ..." and "If ... had ..., ... would have ..."? Are they interchangeable?

If he had studied harder, he would pass the exam.

The fans would have been miserable now if their team had been relegated.

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  • If he had studied harder, he would pass the exam could possibly be said before the exam by someone doubtful about the candidate's chances. He would have passed the exam definitely implies that in fact he failed it. Jun 21, 2021 at 19:34
  • Is it acceptable to say If he had studied harder, he would pass the exam when he has already failed the exam?
    – A Learner
    Jun 22, 2021 at 2:01
  • It isn't acceptable to me. Jun 22, 2021 at 7:40

1 Answer 1

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Personally, I think would have been here now is a rather clunky / ugly construction compared to would be here now, and it's not obvious to me there's any context where the first version might actually have a different meaning, or be "preferred" for some other reason.

If this NGram is to be believed, more and more people are coming to recognise this. Note - it's simply not credible that there's been any significant change in people's intended meanings when they use either of these sequences.

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As a general principle, you should prefer simpler tense forms wherever you have a choice.

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