'Unless' - Subordinating Conjunction

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RocketScience

Senior Member
English - England
How would you use 'unless' in cases of same subject phrases and subordinate clauses?

(1) "I am going out tonight, unless I fall asleep."
(2) "The British are generally welcoming, unless you insult their country."

(own examples)

Also, can these clauses be reversed in Russian ("Unless I fall asleep, I'm going out tonight")
 
  • Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Usually it can be translated as если не, если только не + verb (usually in the same Tense as the verb in the first part).
    Subject (if any) is usually placed between если and нет.
    Reversing is quite possible. In this case semantic stress moves to the "unless" clause.
     

    learnerr

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Use "если не". Sometimes with finite forms of the verb. Sometimes with the infinitive: зайду-ка ещё за хлебом, если не засну на ходу; британцы обычно вполне приветливы, если не говорить плохо об их стране. It is well possible to invert the two: если не ругать их страну, то британцы обычно вполне приветливы; если не засну на ходу, то зайду ещё за хлебом.
     

    RocketScience

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks to you both. Is there any semantic difference between «если не» and «если только не»?
     

    learnerr

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Is there any semantic difference between «если не» and «если только не»?
    There is. Только adds the sense of concession: all that is written in the main clause is correct, but there is a case… Without it, it is a plain если-clause, that it uses the particle не is a coincidence. Только can be used with positive если-clauses as well.
     
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