and if: I have often read when in sentences where
I would have chosen if. What is the difference - especially
when we use in the case of and in the event of?
from Brazil writes:
should we use if and when should we use whether? Could
you give us some examples please?
we are using if or when in the sense of whenever,
in other words to talk about repeated predictable actions, it doesn't
matter which we use as there is very little difference in meaning.
Compare the following:
I'm broke, I borrow money from my mother.
borrow money from my mother if I'm hard-up.
I'm short of cash, I borrow money from my mother.
always feel sick if I go for a ride in your car.
always feel nauseous when I go for a ride in your car.
I always feel queasy whenever I go for a ride in your car.
it is certain that something has happened, is happening or will
happen, we have to use when:
I arrived back home, Sandra was no longer there.
can have a drink when we get to Julie's place. Not now,
when you're driving.
it is uncertain that something has happened or will happen, we have
to use if:
be here soon, if he caught the 1.30 train.
I manage to get to Argentina next year, I'll come and visit you.
is in this sense that the meaning corresponds to in the eventthat or in case of. We sometimes use these expressions
instead of if, if we wish to sound more formal. Compare the
the event that you are unable to fly on 1 May, I would advise
you to buy a travel ticket with greater flexibility.
happens if you can't fly on 1 May? Don't buy a travel ticket
which limits your options.
case of frost, the race meeting will be cancelled.
frost is forecast, the race meeting will be called off.
also operate in the use of if and whether. If
and whether, of course, always imply uncertainty. You can
generally use if or whether when you are reporting
yes/no questions. It doesn't matter which you choose:
you take care of Tommy for me?
~ I don't know yet whether / if I shall be able
to look after Tommy during the Easter holidays or not.
Paco still around?
wondered whether / if Paco had left the country
as I hadn't seen him for some time.
after prepositions, before to-infintives, in whether or
constructions and whenever we start a sentencewith the
conjuntion, we have to use whether:
I'll get there in time for Henry's lecture, I don't know.
can't make up my mind whether to buy some new summer clothes
now or wait until the prices go down..
was a lot of discussion about whether Ringo should have
his tongue pierced or not.
Whetherwe go by bus or by train doesn't really matter. It's bound
to be a slow journey.
going to spend all of granny's money on a new kitchen whether
you like it or not!
not when in 'conditional' sentences
'conditional' sentences, we normally use if. If we are describing
something which must happen first so that something else can occur,
i.e. referring to a condition for something to happen, we have to
use if, unless if means whenever. Consider
these three conditional sentences below and then scroll back to
the very first examples to remind yourself about if meaning whenever:
help you landscape the garden, if I can get off work for
a couple of weeks.
take any chances. What would you do if you lost your job?
my dad had been alive, he would've sorted it all out for you in
a matter of days.
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