Unit 10.2

Alternatives to If


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A conditional sentence is usually composed by two parts: the If-clause (or conditional clause) that expresses the condition, and the main clause that expresses the consequence of that condition.

We have different structures for conditionals. {see Zero Conditional and First Conditional A2 level, Second Conditional and Third Conditional B1 level}

There are other conjunctions that we can to introduce conditionals.


The alteranatives to If are: but for, even if, if in doubt, if it weren’t for/if it hadn’t been for, if necessary, if not, if possible, if so, in case, only if, providing/provided (that), so/as long as, suppose/supposing, unless, what if, when…


  1. Even if they win the game now, they still cannot compete for the championship.
  2. If it weren’t for Miguel, we wouldn’t know how to defeat the other team (without Miguel…).

    • But for your generosity, I would have been in big trouble (without your generosity… / If you hadn’t been so generous…).
    • If it hadn’t been for your ambitions, we wouldn’t have lost (if you hadn’t been so ambitious…).
    • I wouldn’t go out partying even if I had time.
    • Even if we had composed the song earlier, we couldn’t have played it during the concert.
  3. If (you are) in doubt, take a dental appointment.
    • If necessary, you can call Jake at home.
    • I’d like a seat by the window if possible.
  4. “According to the weather forecast, it might rain tomorrow.” “If so, we’ll go to the music festival another day.“.
    • I hope Peter gets here soon. If not, we’ll cancel the show.
  5. I’ll take a pill in case I get sick (I’ll take a pill because I may get sick later).
    • I’ll take a pill if I get sick (I’ll take a pill when I get sick).
    • Take an umbrella in case it rains.
    • If you heat water to 100 degrees Celsius, it boils.
  6. Only if you like winter sports it is worth coming here
    • Acetaminophen is dangerous to children only if dosage is too high.
  7. You can stay there as long as you pass your exams.
    • Provided/Providing (that) he doesn’t cheat, Mike will play with us.
  8. Suppose/Supposing you won the lottery, what would you do?
    • Suppose/Supposing you can’t find a job?
    • What if you fail the exam? What will you do then?
  9. I feel sick. I can’t organise the exhibition unless you help me (I can’t organise it if you don’t help me).
  10. When you heat water to 100 degrees Celsius, it boils.


We use the conjunctions that introduce conditions in the following cases:

  1. Even if: it emphasises that something will (or will not) happen, would (or would not) happen or would (or would not) have happened whatever the condition is/were.
  2. If it weren’t for/if it hadn’t been for, but for: these expressions mean without; they are used in second and third conditionals and are usually followed by usually precede a noun phrase.
  3. If in doubt, if possible, if necessary… : we can make the if-clause shorter, by omitting the subject and the verb be; in certain idiomatic expressions, the subject and be are normally omitted.
  4. If so, if not: they can stand for an if-clause depending on the context.
  5. In case and if: an in case-clause gives a reason, while an if-clause describes a condition. We can use should after in case.
  6. Only If: it makes the condition more restrictive; if the if-clause is first, the subject and the auxiliary in the main clause are inverted.
  7. So/as long as, providing/provided (that): we can use them instead of if to express a condition; note that providing/provided (that) is a bit formal.
  8. Suppose/supposing, What if: they can replace if, mainly in everyday conversation, and are often used without a main clause.
  9. Unless: it appears before an affirmative verb to express if … not.
  10. When: it can replace if in zero conditionals; in the other types of conditionals, we cannot use when instead of if.


Alternatives to if are the conjunctions that can be used in a conditional sentence instead of if.

Those conjunctions are: even if, if it weren’t for/if it hadn’t been for, but for, if in doubt, if possible, if necessary,if so, if not, in case, only if, so/as long as, providing/provided (that), suppose/supposing, what if, unless and when, and they are used in different cases.

For example:
— Even if I study all day, I will not finish the book in two days.” = We use even if to emphasise that the action of finishing the book will not happen in the future.
— “I will call her in case she wants to join us to the cinema.” = We use in case to give the reason, which is that she might want to join us to the cinema.
— As long as you keep attending the classes, you will pass the class.” = We use as long as to express the condition that if you continue attending the classes, you will pass the class.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section which shows its use within a context.

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