In case Vs. if at the beginning of a sentence

arasht25

Member
Russian
In case you missed the last program, here's a summary of the story.:tick:

In case a woman goes out to work, she shouldn't have to do all the housework.:cross:



Hi,
(in case) is sometimes used like (if) at the beginning of a conditional clause. So why is my second sentence incorrect but
first sentence correct?

Many thanks.
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    It is not equivalent to if. In case means given that is possible that. Your first sentence makes some sense. I don't know if you missed the film, but given that it is possible that you did, here's a summary. That does not work in your second sentence.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    As you can see from the post dates and times, sb70012, there was a recent, existing thread on the same subject and based on exactly the same text. Please search first and try to avoid starting duplicate threads.

    Hi,

    I have a book called, Longman Dictionary of Common Errors.
    In that book page 65 its written:

    In case a woman goes out to work, she shouldn't have to do all the housework.:cross:
    If a woman goes out to work, she shouldn't have to do all the housework.:tick:


    In British English
    in case is used only when you talk about something
    that is done as a precaution: 'Let's wait for another five minutes, just in

    case he shows up.'

    In American English
    in case is sometimes used like if at the beginning of
    a conditional clause.

    According to the explanation, the first sentence should be correct. But why in that dictionary it says that the first sentence is incorrect but the second is correct? If (in case) in American English is used as (if) then why should it be incorrect in first sentence?Is the first sentence incorrect only in the UK but accepted in the US? Or its incorrect for both the US and the UK?

    Many thanks.
     
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    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I speak American English, and I don't use 'in case' for 'if' as in the first sentence. I don't think I've heard other speakers of American English do it either, but perhaps some do.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Why? Perhaps the author was thinking in BrE; perhaps they were giving advice that was intended for a UK audience; perhaps they were in error, or perhaps they were being chauvinistic.

    For what it's worth, I'd have put the tick and the cross in the same places. (Cross-posted)
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Ok. Thanks for your prompt answer.
    1-In case a woman goes out to work, she shouldn't have to do all the housework. :cross:
    2-In case Jane comes, I will buy some meat. :cross:
    3-In case you missed the last program, here's a summary of the story.:tick:
    4-In case a dish fails to appease a customer, Steve Carrasco can always make a flying getaway. :tick:
    5-In case you're wondering-for the hospital form-this is how you spell tetanus.:tick:


    Why number (1) and (2) are incorrect but (3) (4) (5) are correct?
    Its really confusing to me.
    Thank you very much.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Well, yes:
    I have also taken an image of my screen page while my dictionary is open.
    You can also see the images.
    Number (1) is : in Longman Dictionary of Common Errors, page 65, which says its incorrect.
    Number (2) is : http://novaenglishcampus.blogspot.com/2011/04/difference-between-if-and-in-case.html which says its incorrect.
    Number (3) is in Longman dictionay : 3.jpg

    Number (4) is in Longman dictionay : 4.jpg

    Number (5) is in Longman dictionary : 5.jpg


    I just want to know that why number (1) and (2) are incorrect but (3) (4) (5) are correct.
    Many thanks.
     
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    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I don't doubt that you marked them as Longman did, but I would have marked two of them differently.

    I think this one is OK, if it means that you are going to buy meat now so that you will have it on hand if Jane comes later: 2. In case Jane comes, I will buy some meat.

    The webpage you link to says this is wrong because "In case" with this meaning cannot come first in the sentence, but I disagree. I would prefer to have "in case" at the end, but I can understand it when it comes first.

    If it means that if Jane comes, you will buy some meat once she has arrived, I would mark it wrong.

    This sentence seems wrong to me, but maybe I don't understand it.
    4-In case a dish fails to appease a customer, Steve Carrasco can always make a flying getaway.

    It seems to mean that Steve Carrasco will make the getaway after the dish fails to appease* a customer. If that is what is meant, then I would mark 'in case' wrong. I would use 'if'.


    * appease: I would expect 'please', but once again, I may not understand the sentence.]
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I speak American English, and I don't use 'in case' for 'if' as in the first sentence. I don't think I've heard other speakers of American English do it either, but perhaps some do.
    Cagey, two AE-speaking members of the forum do it in this thread:

    At post 15, one member interprets "Give him this toy in case he cries" as "Give him this toy if he cries", and says for the avoidance of any confusion that this "in case" is 'not preventative'.

    At post 44 another member gives the green light to the sentence "You should dial 119 in case there is a fire". Clearly, this "in case" is not preventative either.

    A BrE speaker could not produce either of these sentences because in BrE "in case" is not the same as "if".
     
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    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    I am still confused. I don't know why (1) and (2) are incorrect but (3) (4) (5) correct.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Cagey, two AE-speaking members of the forum do it in this thread:

    [....]
    Then clearly some AE speakers do use it. However, I don't, and I hear it as an error produced by a slippage of meaning, with in case being understood as 'in the case that' meaning "if this situation arises".
    I am still confused. I don't know why (1) and (2) are incorrect but (3) (4) (5) correct.
    As I said, I don't agree with that, so I can't explain why they are marked as they are. I would be confused too.
     
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    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    In BE the whole issue depends on the sequence of events:

    If A then B = A may happen. If/when it happens, then B will happen later, as a result.
    In case A then B = A may or may not happen. But B will happen anyway before A happens, as a precaution.


    1-In case a woman goes out to work, she shouldn't have to do all the housework. :cross:
    2-In case Jane comes, I will buy some meat. :tick: (= I will buy the meat today, so that I have some ready if she comes tomorrow. But if Jane comes, I will buy some meat = if she comes tomorrow I will buy the meat tomorrow)
    3-In case you missed the last program, here's a summary of the story.:tick: (= I am going to tell you the summary anyway, because I'm talking on the radio and I don't have any way of knowing whether you missed the last programme.)
    4-In case a dish fails to appease a customer, Steve Carrasco can always make a flying getaway. :cross: (This doesn't make any sense to me, but if SC is the chef and he's planning to escape the customer's anger, then "can always" is wrong. You'd need: Steve Carrasco has already made arrangements for a flying getaway.)
    5-In case you're wondering-for the hospital form-this is how you spell tetanus.:tick: This is similar to case no. 3.

    The classic example would be:

    It's not raining now but it may rain later. Take your umbrella with you now in case it rains. Put your umbrella up later if it does rain.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Thank you very much dear keith.
    I have a question.

    Is it true that in British English the word (in case) is not used at the beginning
    of a sentence but in American English it can be used at the beginning of a sentence?

    You are from the UK, What about you yourself and the people in the UK? Have you ever heard about the usage of (in case) at the beginning of a sentence in the UK? It's used in the USA, But what about in the UK?
     
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    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    You all told me that the sentence written in Longman Dictionary is incorrect and doesn't make sense. But i asked it of a university professor and he told me that the sentence is totally good and correct.
    The sentence:

    In case a dish fails to appease a customer, Steve Carrasco can always make a flying getaway.

    Professor's answer:
    "can always" is an idiom meaning "has the option to".
    "a flying getaway" is likewise idiom meaning "a very hurried departure"
    It does make sense, in other words it means: incase the customer doesn't like the meal, steve carrassco has a way to get away, so he doesn't get done. I imagine steve is the chef and is afraid of his boss shouting.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    In case a woman goes out to work, she shouldn't have to do all the housework.
    (incorrect in the UK) But (correct in the US)


    In case Jane comes, I will buy some meat.
    (incorrect in the UK) But (correct in the US)


    In case you missed the last program, here's a summary of the story.
    (incorrect in the UK) But (correct in the US)


    In case a dish fails to appease a customer, Steve Carrasco can always make a flying getaway.
    (Incorrect in the UK) But (correct in the US)


    In case you're wondering-for the hospital form-this is how you spell tetanus.
    (incorrect in the UK) But (correct in the US)



    *******************************************************
    In British English (in case) is used only when you talk about something
    that is done as a precaution: 'Let's wait for another five minutes, just in
    case he shows up.'

    But

    In American English (in case) is sometimes used like (if) at the beginning of
    a conditional clause

    *******************************************************
     
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    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    SB70012, you don't seem to have read my earlier thread #13 *. I'm not going to comment for the USA, but I've already told you that some of those are correct in the UK.

    * Now post #16
     
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