# Thread: Small if - when question

1. ## Small if - when question

Hello,
This topic is very complex and difficult (in my opinion.)
I could ask tons of question, but I just want to ask one thing and say something.

Usually, every normal human would say:
"When I wake up tomorrow..." because there is no doubt that he will not wake up.
(I'm talking about a healthy and young guy - just as us )

So, now a fictive situation:
Person 1:
"This game does not run on my computer. Maybe the reason is my computer because it is 10 years old."
Person 2:
"Well, if you have such an old computer, then it's no wonder that it does not run."

I bet if is correct, but the strange thing (to me) is that it is 100% clear that person 1 has an old computer.
(No doubt!)

The problem is that I cannot imagine to use when because it has nothing to do with the time cycle...

As said:
That's only a small question which hopefully makes it a bit clearer to me, but I doubt it.

I've been falling into despair all the while

Cheers!

2. ## Re: Small if - when question

Originally Posted by Nightmare85
Hello,
This topic is very complex and difficult (in my opinion.)
I could ask tons of question, but I just want to ask one thing and say something.

Usually, every normal human would say:
"When I wake up tomorrow..." because there is no doubt that he will not wake up.
(I'm talking about a healthy and young guy - just as us )

So, now a fictive situation:
Person 1:
"This game does not run on my computer. Maybe the reason is my computer because it is 10 years old."
Person 2:
"Well, if you have such an old computer, then it's no wonder that it does not run."

I bet if is correct, but the strange thing (to me) is that it is 100% clear that person 1 has an old computer.
(No doubt!)

The problem is that I cannot imagine to use when because it has nothing to do with the time cycle...

As said:
That's only a small question which hopefully makes it a bit clearer to me, but I doubt it.

I've been falling into despair all the while

Cheers!
I guess this is a difficult matter because you are relating it to your mother tongue German. Take a look at this similar thread: http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...3406-when.html

I hope someone else can shed some light in this important topic.

PS Not a native speaker

3. ## Re: Small if - when question

Originally Posted by Nightmare85
So, now a fictive situation:
Person 1:
"This game does not run on my computer. Maybe the reason is my computer because it is 10 years old."
Person 2:
"Well, if you have such an old computer, then it's no wonder that it does not run."
Person 2 could as well say:
"Well, since you have such an old computer no wonder it does not run."
"No wonder it does not run, with such an old computer."

In the situation you presented, it is indeed unatural person 2 to use "if". It is clear that person 2 already knows the computer's age. He or she would use "if" only if he or she would, say, cite a proverb or something like that.

4. ## Re: Small if - when question

Originally Posted by Nightmare85
Usually, every normal human would say:
"When I wake up tomorrow..." because there is no doubt that he will not wake up.
(I'm talking about a healthy and young guy - just as us )
I totally agree with you here!

Originally Posted by Nightmare85
The problem is that I cannot imagine to use when because it has nothing to do with the time cycle...
Yes, in the dialog between person 1 and person 2 you presented there is no room for "when". But "if" and "when" do not constitute the set of all English words, you are not obliged to use one or the other.

Originally Posted by Nightmare85
As said:
That's only a small question which hopefully makes it a bit clearer to me, but I doubt it.
Let us discuss it until it is clear. Post some other examples.

Originally Posted by Nightmare85
I've been falling into despair all the while
I recommend you try to think in the target language, that is, English.

PS Not a native speaker

5. ## Re: Small if - when question

I can't see anything wrong with 'When you have such an old computer...'.

6. ## Re: Small if - when question

Originally Posted by Tdol
I can't see anything wrong with 'When you have such an old computer...'.
Yes, I agree, nothing wrong with that. However, you cannot make an inference "if - then" anymore.

The dialog could go as:
Version 1:
Person 1:
"This game does not run on my computer. Maybe that is because my computer is 10 years old."
Person 2:
"Well, when you have such an old computer, you cannot really expect it to run."

That is, no "then". On the other hand, the dialog could also run as:

Version 2A
Person 1:
"This game does not run on my computer. Maybe that is because my computer is 10 years old."
Person 2:
"Well, if you have such an old computer, (then) you cannot really expect it to run."

Hmm, maybe here is the key! In the dialog's second version above, it is also better not to use "then"!!

Version 2B
Person 1:
"This game does not run on my computer. Maybe that is because my computer is 10 years old."
Person 2:
"Well, if you have such an old computer, you cannot really expect it to run."

So the "if" and the "when" above are both to mean "considering that", and there is no hypothetical situation (the computer is indeed old, that is true for sure), and there is no inference (not "if this than that"). I guess in the two above situations "if" and "when" are completely interchangeable.

PS Not a native speaker

7. ## Re: Small if - when question

Originally Posted by Nightmare85
Maybe the reason is my computer because it is 10 years old.
By the way my computer is much more older than ten years and is still running perfectly (with linux of course).

Originally Posted by ymnisky
Version 1:
Person 1:
"This game does not run on my computer. Maybe that is because my computer is 10 years old."
Person 2:
"Well, when you have such an old computer, you cannot really expect it to run."

Version 2B
Person 1:
"This game does not run on my computer. Maybe that is because my computer is 10 years old."
Person 2:
"Well, if you have such an old computer, you cannot really expect it to run."
Could anyone check if the commas are correctly used in versions 1 and 2B of above?

8. ## Re: Small if - when question

I did a quick check at dictionary.com, and the first definition of 'if' is:

-conjunction
1. in case that; granting or supposing that; on condition that - Sing if you want to...

Doesn't this answer the question? That is

"Well, if you have such an old computer..." could be

"Well, granting that you have such an old computer..."

My point is, is 'if' in this case the noun - a supposition, uncertain possibility.

9. ## Re: Small if - when question

Originally Posted by Linguist__
I did a quick check at dictionary.com, and the first definition of 'if' is:

-conjunction
1. in case that; granting or supposing that; on condition that - Sing if you want to...

Doesn't this answer the question? That is

"Well, if you have such an old computer..." could be

"Well, granting that you have such an old computer..."

My point is, is 'if' in this case the noun - a supposition, uncertain possibility.
Yes, it does. The conjunction "if" does a perfect job here, no doubt about it.
The point however is whether "when" can do the same job here.
"Well, when you have such an old computer ... "
My guess is a yes.

10. ## Re: Small if - when question

Originally Posted by Nightmare85
Person 1:
"This game does not run on my computer. Maybe the reason is my computer because it is 10 years old."
Person 2:
"Well, if you have such an old computer, then it's no wonder that it does not run."
!
Hi,

Clauses of rhetorical condition take the form of a condition, but combined with the main clause, they actually make a strong (unconditional) assertion.

Your computer is straight from Noah's ark. No wonder the program does not run.

Originally Posted by Nightmare85
"When I wake up tomorrow..." because there is no doubt that he will not wake up.
Clauses of condition can be divided into three sub-types:

1. open
2. hypothetical
3. rhetorical

1. Open conditionals does not say whether the condition is/will be fulfilled. In your first sentence, we know that it will be fulfilled. So, "if I wake up..." is not an open condition.

2. Hypothetical? Nothing is hypothetical and I doubt I have to elaborate on that.

3. Rhetorical? What strong unconditional assertion can you make with your if-clause here?

"If I wake up tomorrow..."

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