Imagine you are the parent of a very lazy teenager, Chris. S/he won't help around the house, is very untidy and messy, and isn't doing very well at school. S/he has lots of plans for his or her free time, but you have decided that it is time for some discipline! Read the dialogue below and see if you can continue it using unless.
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||Can I go out tonight?
||Have you done your homework yet?
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Chris: Not Yet
I: You cannot go out tonight unless you do your homework.
Chris: But Mom, I promise to do it tomorrow morning.
I: You have to help me preparing the breakfast. So you cannot help me preparing the breakfast unless you do your homework tonight.
Chris: You're so cruel mom!
I: No.. I am a nice Mommy unless you're lazy
Hello Yuan, and thanks for your dialogue! I really like the last line - very funny and with perfect use of 'unless' - well done!
I'd like to mention verb patterns, Yuan. You wrote 'You have to help me preparing the breakfast' - a native speaker would probably say 'help me to prepare' or just 'help me prepare'.
Have a look at our Ask About English area to find out more about verb patterns.
Keep logging on to Grammar Challenge, Yuan!
Chris: no yet,and I wont do it unless you give me permission for going out tonight!!
Me: what!!??? Miss Untidy Girl! go to your beedroom and stay there until you finish your homework! unless you want to see me very angry.
Chris: I'm very angry!
Me: Look at me, you made me crazy little girl, go away unless you want I take a very strong decission,you are not allowed to go to dance for the next two week ends
Ooh Alicia, you are a tough lady! You have used 'unless' beautifully in your dialogue too! But I'd like to point out a few grammatical errors, if you don't mind...
Chris should say 'not yet' instead of 'no yet', and you give permission to do something, not 'for doing' something. So Chris's first sentence should read:
Chris: not yet,and I won't do it unless you give me permission to go out tonight!!
And we can make a few improvements to your last sentence, like this:
Me: Look at me, you made me crazy little girl, go away unless you want me to (not 'I') take a very strong decision (not 'decission'), you are not allowed to go to dance for the next two weekends (not 'week ends')
Thanks for writing in, Alicia!
Chris: Sorry I haven't.
I: Chris unless you'll do your homework, you'll go out tonight.
Chris: Ok I'm going to do my homework now.
I: Please show me when you finish it.
Hi Reginaldo, and thanks for your dialogue! We need to have another look at your sentence construction with 'unless'.
One way we can understand 'unless' is to think about conditional sentences. Imagine that Chris's mum says, 'Chris, if you don't do your homework, you won't go out tonight'. This is a first conditional sentence, using 'if' + present simple with 'will' + infinitive. Now, we can substitute 'unless' for 'if you don't' (they have the same meaning) and we will get this sentence:
Chris unless you do your homework, you won't go out tonight.
You can find more information about conditional sentences in our Ask About English area.
That's all from me, Reginaldo!
Chris: Well, I'll do them tomorrow.
I: Unless you don't do your homework, you can't go out from your room!
Chris: But dad, Unless I don't enroll for the skateboard championship, I can't participate.
I: Unless you don't tidy your room, you don't take the skateboard out the cabinet.
Chris: My skateboard is already out the cabinet, it's in the middle of the bedroom!
Hi Alberto, and thanks for your dialogue! We need to check your use of positive and negatives with 'unless'.
In your first example of unless - 'Unless you don't do your homework, you can't go out from your room!' - if we understand that 'unless' means 'except if', you have written that Chris can't go out of his room unless (except if) he doesn't do his homework! In other words, if he does his homework, he will have to stay in his room!!!
You can correct this sentence like this:
'Unless you do your homework, you can't go out from your room!'
You need to correct your next example of 'unless' in the same way:
'Unless I enrol, (NOT 'don't enroll') for the skateboard championship, I can't participate.'
And you need to make the same correction to your final example of 'unless', like this:
'Unless you tidy your room, you can't (not 'don't) take the skateboard out the cabinet.'
That's all from me, Alberto!
C. Not yet.
Y. You cannot go out unless you do your homework.
C. I cannot do my homework unless I have something to eat.
Y. Unless you help me with housework we will not eat somehing.
Hi Alexey, and thanks for your dialogue! You are a very strict parent ;-) Your use of 'unless' is very good in this dialogue, Alexy, well done! But don't forget that in negative sentneces, we usually use 'anything' (not 'something'), like this:
Y. Unless you help me with housework we will not eat anything.
Thanks again for your dialogue, Alexey!