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Omitting "if"

Offer advice on hypothetical situations

shakingman
 

If vs. Were / Had / Should

IF 

The clause following If expresses a condition for the activity in the main clause. If can be omitted to 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!

WITHOUT IF

Were, had and should can be used without if by moving the auxiliary verb in front of the subject. (Should expresses a different meaning. See 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... 

See Adjunct Prepositional Phrases regarding the conditional structure being a prepositional phrase with if as the head preposition and a clause as its complement. Also see the structures that can complement (follow) a preposition Prepositional Complements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word Order Change

Placing emphasis on the advice

 

 

 

Subject–Verb Inversion

SUBJECT–VERB

In the usual conditional structure, if is followed by a clause with normal subject- predicate word order.

IF + Cl 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

When omitting if in a conditional structure, the auxiliaries were, had or should are placed before the subject in the content clause. This emphasizes the advice.

SHORTENED PHRASE ADVICE

Were I [were] you,
     Move the auxilairy forward  

I would have asked him to pay me back. 

Had the police [had] come,

they would have stopped him.

Should he [should] return,  

call me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If / In case

Advice vs. Precaution

 

 

 

If vs. In case

IF

Do this action after  X happens or might happen  — this is an emergency action.

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

Do this action before X happens or might happen  — this is an emergency preparation (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.)

 

*Unclear meaning.

See  If vs In case page.   

 

 

 

 

 

Practice

Giving Advice

 

 

 

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your responses to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 1-10" button.

 

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.