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English Grammar

IF alternatives:
words and expressions to replace 'if'


‘If’ can be replaced by words or expressions with a similar meaning.
The most common alternatives for ‘if’ are:
- as long as,  provided/providing (that),  on condition that,  when,  once,
without,  but for,  should,  were,  had,  in case,  unless

AS LONG AS / PROVIDED / PROVIDING THAT / ON CONDITION THAT:

  • You can borrow my dictionary (if) as long as you return it when you’ve finished.
  • I’ll lend you my car (if) providing/provided (that) you promise to drive carefully.
  • The bank will lend us the money (if) on condition that it is repaid within 12 months.

WHEN / ONCE :

  • If you start, you may not be able to stop.
  • When you start, you may not be able to stop.
  • Once you start, you may not be able to stop

WITHOUT / BUT FOR :

  • If he hadn't intervened, the boy would have drowned.
  • Without his intervention, the boy would have drowned.
  • But for his intervention, the boy would have drowned.

SHOULD / WERE / HAD :

We can invert the subject-verb order of the conditional clause and remove 'if' to add emphasis:
  • If you should ...
  • Should you need my advice, you can call me at any time.
  • If you were ...
  • Were you to arrive before me, please wait for me at the door.
  • If I had known ...
  • Had I known the traffic was so heavy, I would have taken the train.

NEGATIVE SENTENCES :

In negative sentences ‘if’ can be replaced by ‘unless’ :
  • If you don't prepare for the interview, you won't feel confident.
  • Unless you prepare for the interview, you won't feel confident.
  • If you don't leave now, you won't catch the train.
  • Unless you leave now, you won't catch the train.


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