# if she studied hard for the exam, she would pass it

My daughter's exam results came out just an hour ago and I don't know her results yet. I don't even know whether she studied hard for the exam. But,

a) I'm sure if she studied hard for the exam, she would pass it.

Is this sentence correct? Is it an example of a second conditional?

Your sentence is neither correct, nor an example of second conditional. Second conditional is for unreal situations. The situation with your daughter is real.

Your example has an unknown past condition (whether she studied), a past result (the finished test), and a future reveal (when the results are published). This is a very complex set of things to put into one sentence. If you're not yet comfortable with second conditional, then this might not be the right example sentence to learn from.

But here goes!

Depending on how much detail of the situation you want to include in the sentence, choose from among these:

1. "If she studied hard for the exam, she will have passed."

This sentence captures all the detail, including that she may have studied in the past, that the exam is finished, and that the results will be published in the future. It means, "When the results come out, if she studied for the exam, we will learn that she has passed."

1. "If she studied hard for the exam, she will pass."

This sentence captures that she may have studied in the past, and that we're going to get the results in the future.

1. "*If she studied hard for the exam, she passed."

This sentence captures that she may have studied in the past, and that the exam is finished.

(Note: None of these conditional sentences are part of the standard 1st/2nd/3rd conditional etc. For more info on this, see this answer to a similar question)

I don't think the first/second/third conditionals are useful in analysing this.

The past tense could be used in the if clause, but you might prefer the present perfect. The conclusion needs to be in a future tense.

If she has studied hard, she will pass.

This is a first conditional, as the condition is in a present tense and is considered to be possible.

Using "If she studied hard, she would pass" looks like a second conditional. It is implying that it is impossible for her to study hard. It is an unreal condition. This is not the sense that you want to give.

• The exam is finished, and whether she studied or not was only relevant until she started the exam, so I think simple past is correct in the condition clause, rather than present perfect.
– gotube
Aug 30, 2021 at 3:30