Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Language: Old English
Origin: gif

if

1 conjunction
     
if1 S1 W1
1 used when talking about something that might happen or be true, or might have happened:
We'll stay at home if it rains.
If you need money, I can lend you some.
If I didn't apologize I'd feel guilty.
If you had worked harder, you would have passed your exams.
What would happen to your family if you were to die in an accident?
If Dad were here, he would know what to do.
Taste the soup and add salt and pepper if necessary.
I want to get back by five o'clock if possible.
I think I can fix it tomorrow. If not, you'll have to wait till Friday.
Is the book available, and if so where?
The missiles can be fired only if the operator types in a six-digit code.
We'll face that problem if and when it comes along (=if it happens or when it happens).
If by any chance you can't manage dinner tonight, perhaps we can at least have a drink together.
see usage note unless
2 used to mention a fact, situation, or event that someone asks about, or is not certain about:
He stopped to ask me if I was all right.
I don't know if what I am saying makes any sense.
I doubt if anyone will remember me.
I'm not sure if this is the right road or not.
3 used to mention a type of event or situation when talking about what happens on occasions of that type:
If I go to bed late I feel dreadful in the morning.
Plastic will melt if it gets too hot.
4 used when saying what someone's feelings are about a possible situation:
You don't seem to care if I'm tired.
I'm sorry if I upset you.
It would be nice if we could spend more time together.
5 spoken used when making a polite request:
I wonder if you could help me.
I'd be grateful if you would send me further details.
Would you mind if I open a window?
If you would just wait for a moment, I'll try to find your papers.
6 used when you are adding that something may be even more, less, better, worse etc than you have just said:
Brian rarely, if ever, goes to bed before 3 am.
Their policies have changed little, if at all, since the last election.
Her needs are just as important as yours, if not more so.
The snow was now two feet deep, making it difficult, if not impossible, to get the car out.
7

even if

used to emphasize that, although something may happen or may be true, it will not change a situation:
I wouldn't tell you even if I knew.
Even if she survives, she'll never fully recover.
8

if anything

used when adding a remark that changes what you have just said or makes it stronger:
It's warm enough here in London. A little too warm, if anything.
9 spoken used during a conversation when you are trying to make a suggestion, change the subject, or interrupt someone else:
If I might just make a suggestion, I think that the matter could be easily settled with a little practical demonstration.
If I could just take one example to illustrate this.
10

if I were you

spoken used when giving advice and telling someone what you think they should do:
I wouldn't worry about it if I were you.
11

if only

a) used to express a strong wish, especially when you know that what you want cannot happen:
If only he had talked to her sooner!
If only I weren't so tired!
b) used to give a reason for something, although you think it is not a good one:
Media studies is regarded as a more exciting subject, if only because it's new.
12 used to say that although something may be true, it is not important:
If he has a fault at all, it is that he is too generous.
Her only problem, if you can call it a problem, is that she expects to be successful all the time.
13 used when adding one criticism of a person or thing that you generally like:
The eldest son was highly intelligent, if somewhat lazy.
Lunch was a grand if rather noisy affair.

➔ as if

at as2 (9)

➔ if ever there was one

at ever (15)

➔ what if...?

at what1 (18)
GRAMMAR GRAMMAR

When you are using if to talk about something that might happen in the future, use the present simple tense, not will or shall if I fail the test (NOT if I will fail the test). To refer to the present or the future after if when you are talking about something unlikely or untrue, use the past tense, not 'would' or 'should' If someone gave me the money, I'd buy a car tomorrow (NOT If someone would give me the money...)!! In formal English or in writing, use were not was when the subject of the clause is I, he, she, it, there or a singular noun If I were in that position, I'd get legal advice. Imagine how you would feel if your child were killed. In normal conversation, you can also use was If I was ten years younger, I'd go out with him.!! The expression if I were you is fixed. Do not say 'if I was you', even in normal conversation If I were you, I'd have a talk with your parents. To refer to the past when you are talking about something that did not happen, use the past perfect tense If he had married Laura, he would have been unhappy (NOT If he would have married Laura...).

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