depend (on) if

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Senior Member

X: You planning to see him again?
Y: Depends on if I have a reason not to see him again.
X: Like what kind of reason?
Y: I don't know -- like maybe if there was somebody new in my life.

Is "on" necessary or optional here? (I've seen either. Is it a matter of preference?)

Thank you.
  • ActivePassive

    AE - Native Speaker
    Julian gave a great example. When you strip away the words, A can't depend B. A has to depend on B.

    In your situation, though, I'd agree that it's optional.

    However, you can always just say:

    "You planning to see him again?"
    "It depends."
    Though, again, the question that would follow would have to use "depends on":
    "Depends on what?"


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I understood the question to specifically about the construction in post #1, where depends (on) is followed by a condition:
    It depends (on) if <something>.

    I would prefer to use whether, not if, but I observe that there are lots of depends (on) if people around.

    I also observe that both sets of people are likely to omit "on", expecially BE speakers.

    it depends on if - 0
    it depends if - 19 (all speech)
    it depends on whether - 14 (4 speech)
    it depends whether - 12 (9 speech)

    it depends on if - 13 (9 speech)
    it depends if - 20 (16 speech)
    it depends on whether - 78 (40 speech)
    it depends whether - 14 (10 speech)

    Google News
    it depends on if - 26
    it depends if - 60
    it depends on whether - 99
    it depends whether - 17

    In some of the Google News examples the sequence is interrupted, for example: "... explain WHAT it depends on. If you at least know...". But that is not always the case.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - US
    In really casual situations, I have heard variations of both "Depends on if I have a reason not to see him again" and "Depends if I have a reason not to see him again", and either one could work, although the former works better. Neither of these are grammatically correct, but in really casual situations (e.g., college parties), you would sound like a native saying either one of these.

    As panjandrum subsequently indicates, once you go formal, it really should be, "It depends on whether I have a reason not to see him again."
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