Results 1 to 2 of 2

Thread: if/when

  1. Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Vietnamese
      • Home Country:
      • Vietnam
      • Current Location:
      • Vietnam

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 109


    Hi there,
    What is the difference between 'if' and 'when' in mneaning or tone in the following sentences?

    1. Call me (if/ when) you have time.
    2. (If/ When) there is a fire, do not use this lift.
    3. (If/ When) you feel unwell, call our staff for help.


  2. BobK's Avatar
    Harmless drudge
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 16,037

    Re: if/when

    1 - 'when' (if the speaker has a reasonable expectation that he'll be called eventually - 'if' would give an impreesion of despair [and would often be combined with 'ever' - 'Call me if you ever have the time; but I don't suppose you will.']}

    2 -'if'' would be more appropriate if your normal expectation is that there won't be a fire. But imagine you are being introduced to a job in which fires are a frequent occurrence - say once a week. They are an occupational hazard. The person training you might say 'when there is a fire...'.

    3 As in 1 and 2, it's all about expectation. 'If' is probably more likely, but 'when' is quite possible. If a hospital is administering a drug that has a know and unavoidable side effect, 'when' would be the one to use.

    Last edited by BobK; 04-Dec-2010 at 15:33. Reason: Fix typoes


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts