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Original statement:

The passive reading step works best if you thoroughly completed the Step 1.

Revised statement:

The passive reading step works best if you had thoroughly completed the Step 1.

I think the revised statement says that if you had already completed the Step 1 thoroughly, then the next steps will work best for you.

The original statement means the same thing but don't know why had is omitted?

Moreover, if I put had then it will be a nice example of past perfect tense.

Help me to correct my understanding about this.

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Neither statement is correct.

Although we say "the first step", "Step 1" doesn't need the definite article.

By the way, "Step 1" may be OK if the steps in the textbook use digits, but more formally we write "Step One", "Stage One", "Year One", "Act One" etc, (with or without the capital letters).

The original statement,

The passive reading step works best if you thoroughly completed Step 1.

mixes the present with the past simple:

The baby cries if you dropped it
It sleeps if you fed it
It works best if you did that

These are wrong.

You could say:

The passive reading step works best if/when you HAVE thoroughly completed Step 1.

The passive reading step WILL work best if you (first) thoroughly complete Step 1.

The passive reading step WILL work best if/when you HAVE thoroughly completed Step 1.


Your revised statement,

The passive reading step works best if you had thoroughly completed the Step 1.

mixes the present with the past perfect:

The baby cries if you had dropped it
It sleeps if you had fed it
It works best if you had completed that

These are wrong.

In fact the past perfect simple can't be used to say what you wish to say.

These are grammatically correct:

The passive reading step worked best when you had thoroughly completed Step 1.

but the meaning is quite different. It's all in the past and both steps have been completed or attempted!

The passive reading step WOULD HAVE worked best if you had thoroughly completed Step 1.

but, again, the meaning is quite different. It is all in the past! Step 1 wasn't completed and the passive reading step hasn't worked!!

  • We use the past perfect simple (had + past participle) to talk about time up to a certain point in the past. (British Council)

I recommend this:

The passive reading step WILL work best when you have thoroughly completed Step 1.

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  • Thanks @OldBrixtonian !! Does it mean it is okay to mix present with present perfect, and not present with past or future? I need to read more on mixes tenses. Jul 28, 2022 at 11:22
  • @Subrato Patnaik Sorry. No time! Got to go to the dentist! Back in three or four hours. Perhaps someone else will jump in and help before then. Jul 28, 2022 at 11:24
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    No - it doesn't mean that. You can have more than one tense in a sentence, but the sentence must make sense. "The baby cries because you dropped it", "The baby cried because you had dropped it", "It is warm today but yesterday was cold and tomorrow there will be snow." "I had finished my lunch when the phone rang". "The passive reading step will work best when you have thoroughly completed Step 1." These all make sense. BUT "The baby cries if you dropped it" and "The baby cries if you had dropped it" do not. I strongly recommend you spend some time at the British Council site I mentioned. Jul 29, 2022 at 8:28

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