Let's say Max left his parents in order to go to school. Before leaving, he had told them he would get at least one 'A' by the time he returned. Max is returning home two weeks from now. He has several more tests remaining, but he is sure he will not get an 'A' in any them. The following sentences are Max's attempts to communicate his thoughts to us. In one, Max narrates his thoughts to us 1 hour after having them; before the events they speak of have taken place. In the other, he narrates his thoughts to us while they pass through his mind. In both sentences there are four distinctive times: When max should have studied. The present. When max would have gotten an 'A', had he studied. When Max goes home and meets his parents. In the narration from the future, there is a third time between 2 and 3 which is the narrator's present. Present: I dread the encounter, but know that if I studied more diligently, I will have gotten an 'A' by the time I get home. Past: I dreaded the encounter, but knew that had I studied more diligently, I would have gotten an 'A' by the time I got home. I assume (perhaps wrongly) that the first sentence is correct. However, what about the second? From the sentence, one cannot say if Max got home in the past or the future. The same for when he should have gotten the 'A'. Should I replace 'would' for 'will' in the past narrative? Or is there simply no way to tell aside from context? This isn't for an actual work, just something I've been wondering about.