2 Kinds of "If Clauses"-the Written & the spoken?

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New Member
I have a question about "If Clauses". I've learned three types in my grammar class, but when I watch TV programs, I hear types or forms I've never studied!

I will give you examples of what I've heard:

1. I think if we would be in a perfect world, we would be together.

2. If I did it to them, I would have been decapitated right now.

3. If you would like my advice, I would tell you not to do it.

4. If it would have been me, I would have waited outside until all of you were ready to leave.

5.If I drank too much, we probably would have gotten kicked out.

I just want to know if it is acceptable for a speaker to form whatever If-clause in their speech because it is the only obstacle in my speaking skill, and I am trying to get it out of the way.
Thank you everybody in advance.
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    People don't tend to think before speaking. :) As a result, you get all sorts of spoken sentences. In general, though, the same rules should apply to written and spoken English.


    New Member
    JamesM, thank you for your reply. I really appreciate it. Though I still feel I need to read more answers and opinion about my question.

    Please you guys help out.


    Senior Member
    I agree with James. An unclear sentence can be made clearer in speech using verbal emphasis and tone of voice and so on, but it nonetheless starts under handicap: It's unclear. All of those are bad sentences, and they're bad whether they're used in writing or in speech.


    Senior Member
    English - British (Southern England)
    I agree with what others have said. However, I should add that some learners appear to believe that only three patterns are possible, as in:

    1. If it’s fine tomorrow, ( present simple) we will have (will + bare infinitive) a barbecue.
    2. If you left (past simple) me, I would be (would + bare infinitive) devastated .
    3.If I had known (past perfect)that Jim was going to be there, I would have gone (would have + past participle (3rd form)).

    In fact, all the verb forms below are correct and natural.

    1. If Phil is watching TV instead of working, I’m going to stop his allowance. .
    2. Peter: Emma called from Prague yesterday.
    Luke: Well, if she was in Prague yesterday, she should be here tomorrow.
    3. If you would like to take a seat, I’ll let Mr Bull know you’re here.
    4. If you have finished, start reading the next chapter.
    5. If you didn’t finish up your pudding, you won’t want any chocolate, then?
    6. As children we were always outdoors. If it was fine, we would walk for miles.
    7. If water has been boiled for twenty minutes, it is completely sterile.
    8. If the metal snaps, it has been subjected to extreme stress.
    9. If a dog is wagging its tail, it’s happy
    10. If you can speak Swedish, you can understand Danish.
    11. If Mary phones, let’s invite her to dinner.
    12. If you’re getting bored, why don’t you do something else?
    13. We’re going to take strike action if they won’t give us a rise.
    14. If you will come with me, I’ll take you to the meeting.
    15. If the offer has arrived by the end of the week, we’ll accept.
    16. If I’m not in the office tomorrow, I’ll have caught the bug that’s going around.
    17. I may resign if David gives Celia the job,


    Senior Member
    English - USA
    All five of the original sentences sound like things people would say. I guarantee there are more than 3 types of if-statements.

    If the question was mostly about what verb tenses go together in if/then statements, then I believe tunaafi's post covers it thoroughly.
    If the question was, instead, about different meanings that if/then statements may have, then my post may be helpful.

    The most common types, I think, are these:
    A. If (something counterfactual), then (something resulting from that counterfactual).
    B. If (something possible but as yet unknown), then (something that will proceed from that possibility becoming/being reality).
    C. If (something commonplace that happens at times), then (the thing to do when that thing happens).

    Basheer's 1, 2, 4, and 5, are all of type A. Basheer's 3 is type B.
    Tunaafi's 2, 7, 10, 11, 13, 15, and 17 are type B. Tunaafi's 1, 4, 6, are type C.

    There's a type D which is less common but of which Tunaafi provides several examples.
    D. If (some observed fact), then (the presumed cause of that observed fact).
    Tunaafi's 8, 9, and 16 are type D.

    There's also another type that Tunaafi provides examples of.
    E. If (a person accepts an offer), then (the result of accepting the offer). E is like B or C, but also acts to extend the offer.
    Tunaafi's 3 and 14 are type E.
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