skip navigation

Omitting "if"

Giving advice in hypothetical situations

shakingman

 

 

 

 

Were / Had / Should

IF CLAUSE

If is commonly used to introduce a conditional clause. If can be omitted from a conditional clause to shorten the sentence and place more emphasis on the result clause.

CONDITION ADVICE

If I were you,  

I wouldn't get involved.

If I had known,

I would have said something.

If you should see him again,  

walk the other way!

CONDITIONAL VERB CLAUSE

Were, had and should may be used without if by moving the auxiliary verb in front of the subject. (Should is also used to mean in case.)

CONDITION ADVICE

Were I you,

I wouldn't get involved.  

Had I known,

I would have said something. 

Should you see him again,

walk the other way! 

 

was / were –  We often use were instead of was after if.  Both was and were are used in formal English, but only was is used in informal English.  If I were you... 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conditional Clause

Subject–Verb Inversion

 

 

 

Subject–Verb Inversion

SUBJECT–VERB

In a conditional clause, use normal subject verb word order after if.

IF-CLAUSE ADVICE

If I were you,

 I would have asked him to pay me back.

If the police had come,

 they would have stopped him.

If he comes back,
 

call me.

AUX–SUBJECT–VERB

In a conditional clause using were, had or should, move the auxiliary verb or be (main) verb before the subject. Omit if.

SHORTENED CLAUSE ADVICE

Were I [were] you,
move image rightMove the auxilairy forward  

I would have asked him to pay me back. 

Had the police [had] come,
move image right

they would have stopped him.

Should he [should] return,
 

call me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If / In case

Advice vs. Precaution

 

 

 

If versus In case

IF

An if clause differs in meaning from an in case clause. An if clause is something we do only if the action in the other clause occurs (not before). 

CONDITION ADVICE

If you need to reach me,

call my cell phone.  (Do this after X happens.)

*In case you need to reach me,

call my mobile phone.  (Do this for the duration.)

IN CASE

An in case clause is an action that we take before something might occur. An in case clause states a precaution.

PRECAUTION ADVICE

In the event (that) you need to reach me,

write down my phone number.  (Do this before X happens.)

In case you need to reach me (later),  

take your phone with you now.  (Do this before X happens.)

 

*Yellow highlighting indicates example of incorrect usage.
See  If / In case       

 

 

 

 

 

Practice

Giving Advice

 

 

 

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Click the "check all" button at the bottom of the practice to reveal the answers after you finish, or
    c lick the individual "check" buttons #1-10 to compare responses as you go.

 

1.

2.
If I were your teacher, I would insist you try harder.

3.
If my boss calls, please let me know right away.

4.
If I had thought of the right words, I would have told him what I was thinking!

5.
If I were a millionaire, I would not have to worry about spending money.

6.
If they run out of tickets, we will have to go to another movie.

7.
If you change your mind, let me know.

8.
If you had known my dad, you would have thought he was wonderful too.

9.

10.