Can we use unless with in unreal situations?

Nawee

Senior Member
Thai
Hello,

Most books give examples of "unless" in the present tenses. I'm just wondering if it could be used with unreal situations?

"Life would not be worth living unless you had someone to share it with."

Thank you.

N
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It isn't always possible to use "unless" with unreal situations.

    unless = if not
    Unless
    is similar in meaning to if not and can be used instead of if not in certain types of conditional sentences.

    [...]we cannot use unless with would to talk about unreal future situations:

    If he didn't take everything so seriously, he would be much easier to work with.
    If he weren't so bad-tempered, I would help him to get the work done
    Learning English | BBC World Service

    Life would not be worth living unless you had someone to share it with.
    I'm not sure about this, but I think "Life would not be worth living if you had nobody to share it with" is a safer bet.

    Perhaps separating the clauses with a dash makes the original sentence more acceptable:
    Life would not be worth living—unless you had someone to share it with.
     
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