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If .... Then

If .... Then

 

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If...Then


Hello! In this lesson, we will learn to use the correlative conjunction pair "if/then". Correlative conjunctions are used in pairs to show the relationship between one part of a sentence and the other part of the same sentence. The correlative conjunction pair "if/then" is used in many contexts—math, computer programming, and grammar.

In this lesson, we will use the correlative conjunction pair if/then as it is used in English grammar. The word "if" means (translate if); the word "then" means (translate then). In English we use these words to discuss both real and unreal conditions.

Here are some examples of the correlative conjunction pair if/then as it is used to discuss real conditions. In these sentences, if the event in the first part of the sentence happens, the event in the second part of the sentence will happen. The "if" part of the sentence is in the simple present tense, and the "then" part of the sentence is in the future tense.

"If you eat too much, then you will get sick."

"If it rains, then we will not go to the park."

"If I am ready, then I will go to the party."

Here are some examples of the correlative conjunction pair if/then as it is used to discuss unreal conditions. In these sentences, if the event in the first part of the sentence were to happen, the event in the second part of the sentence would happen. The "if" part of the sentence is in the subjunctive, which looks like the simple past tense except for the verb "to be". The subjunctive form of "to be" is always "were". The "then" part of the sentence is in the conditional, which contains the word "would" or "could".

"If you ate too much, then you would get sick."

"If it rained, then we would not go to the park."

"If I were ready, then I would go to the party."

With this set of correlative conjunctions, the word "then" is often considered to be understood. So we do not always include the word "then" in "if-then" sentences, even though we still refer to them as "if-then" statements.

It is perfectly fine to use the sentences we looked at earlier without using the word "then" in any of them – like this:

"If you eat too much, you will get sick."

"If it rains, we will not go to the park."

"If I am ready, I will go to the party."

"If you ate too much, you would get sick."

"If it rained, we would not go to the park."

"If I were ready, I would go to the party."

Additionally, the sentences can be turned around so that the "then" part of the sentence is first, and the "if" part of the sentence is second, like this:

"You will get sick if you eat too much."

"We will not go to the park if it rains."

"I will go to the party if I am ready."

"You would get sick if you ate too much."

"We would not go to the park if it rained."

"I would go to the party if I were ready."

Now that we have an idea of how to form "if-then" sentences, let us listen to a dialog. In this scenario, Jennifer is asking David if he will be needing the car all day today.

Jennifer: Do you need the car all day?

David: Yes, why?

Jennifer: If you have the car, I will not be able to go to the store after work.

David: Do you have to go to the store after work?

Jennifer: If I don’t go to the store after work, we will not have any food for dinner.

David: Oh, I see. If you had the car, we would have dinner…

Jennifer: …at home – but if you use the car all day, we will have to go out for dinner.


Jennifer begins the conversation by asking David "Do you need the car all day?". She might have asked "Are you using the car all day?" or "Do you want to use the car all day?".

David answers "Yes, why?". He wants to know why she is asking the question, so he could have said "Yes, I need the car all day. Why are you asking?" or "Yes, I am using the car all day. Why do you want to know?".

Jennifer responds with an if-then sentence: "If you have the car, I will not be able to go to the store after work." She could have included the word "then" in the sentence, like this: "If you have the car, then I will not be able to go to the store after work.".

David asks "Do you have to go to the store after work?"". He could have asked "Do you need to go to the store after work?" or "Why do you have to go to the store after work?".

Jennifer responds with an if-then sentence: "If I don’t go to the store after work, we will not have any food for dinner." She could have said "If I don’t go shopping after work, we will not have anything for dinner." or "if I don’t go to the store, we will not be able to eat dinner."

David thinks this is funny. He says "Oh, I see. If you had the car, we would have dinner.". David is using the unreal hypothetical sense of the if-then correlative conjunctive pair. By using the unreal conditional. David means that he doesn't think Jennifer will have the car today, so Jennifer's having the car is an unreal condition.

Jennifer finishes off David's sentence by saying "… at home –" She means that if she had the car, they would have dinner at home. But she will not have the car, since David needs to use it all day. She then switches back to the real condition when she says "--but if you use the car all day, we will have to go out for dinner.".

Now that we understand how the correlative conjunctive pair if/then works, let us listen to the dialog again.

Jennifer: Do you need the car all day?

David: Yes, why?

Jennifer: If you have the car, I will not be able to go to the store after work.

David: Do you have to go to the store after work?

Jennifer: If I don’t go to the store after work, we will not have any food for dinner.

David: Oh, I see. If you had the car, we would have dinner…

Jennifer: …at home – but if you use the car all day, we will have to go out for dinner.

Great! You have learned to use the correlative conjunctive pair "if-then". "If you want to speak English, you will enjoy it!"