’If’ clauses

’If’ clauses

Example (1): We won’t be able to get on with the work if we don’t get replacements on time.
‘if we don’t …’
Example (2): If I were you I’d be concerned …
‘If … were / ‘d (would) be …’
Example (3): See if you can contact him on the phone.
‘if’ (= whether) as interrogative

Notes on ’if’ clauses

‘if’ clause + the present tense (‘don’t get’):

  • when the main clause has a future tense (‘won’t (will not) be able to’), as in Example (1).

‘if’ clause + the past tense or subjunctive (‘were’):

  • whenever the main clause refers to an unreal or unlikely situation (‘would’ or ‘should’), as in Example (2).
  • You may use ‘if’ or ‘whether’
    to begin an indirect question or another sub-clause, as in Example (3)
    ‘See if you can contact him on the phone.’
    or ‘I don’t know whether I’ll be able to go to the party tonight’.