USING « IF »

avril 12, 2010 à 3:09 | Publié dans english (all), intermediate english | Laisser un commentaire

*Image created at wordle.net

We use “if” in English to talk about possible outcomes, consequences or suggestions. The if-clause follows the pattern of event/action and then consequence/reaction.

e.g.

If you light a bomb (ACTION) it explodes (REACTION).

If they don’t go to class (ACTION), they’ll never learn (CONSEQUENCE).

If she won the lottery (EVENT), what would you do (REACTION)?

If I had asked first (ACTION), it wouldn’t have been a problem (CONSEQUENCE).

If you’ve not finished it (ACTION), do it now (REACTION).

We can use “if” with many different tenses depending on the meaning we intend to convey. Sometimes we refer to something probable; sometimes possible, sometimes unlikely and sometimes to something impossible.

We use “if” to talk about dreams, ideas, plans, the future, the direction our life has taken, and also generally, to refer to the rules that govern our situation, country or universe.

e.g.

If you directly translate from one language to another, problems often occur.

If he gets the job, he’ll be in Japan next year.

If they made it to the play-offs, they would at least have a chance.

If I hadn’t come to Montréal, I never would have met her.

If you’re going to be rude, just leave.

*

Read through the conversation below and try to understand the vocabulary and the overall sense of the language. Take note of the use of “if” within the dialogue.

f

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(Alan is directing a business meeting concerning a problem within the company, and trying to find some solutions…)

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Alan: So, if we’re all here let’s begin the meeting. And listen everyone; nobody is leaving before 5.20pm, regardless of the fact that you’re only paid until 5pm; if the meetings started on time, we could all leave on time, but they don’t, so unfortunately you’re all going to be late home… again. Please in future arrive on time. So, first on the agenda: sales. We need to address the fact that sales are down by almost 25% this quarter. If the company keeps losing money like this, we will all be out of a job by next year. I know nobody wants that, least of all me, so let’s all put our heads together and figure out where we’re going wrong.

Mark: Alan, you’re absolutely right, the company is in a bit of a crisis here. We all know the saying – “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” – well this is exactly where we’ve all gone wrong recently. Look at last year’s sales figures; steady growth and healthy net profits in all four quarters. What happened? We got greedy, tried to expand too quickly and too aggressively and without the necessary market research and preparation, and now we have overextended ourselves, are losing money and need to make some rapid changes to avoid a catastrophe. If I was in charge, I know what I’d do: consolidate, get rid of any stores that aren’t turning a profit, and never be so reckless with expansion again.

Jane: Mark, you’re right. We wouldn’t be in this mess if we had been less hasty about expanding into new areas. Having said that, it was impossible to predict how badly things have turned out. If someone had warned us that a potential global economic crisis could leave us all exposed after rapid expansion, who would have listened to them?

Alan: I think everyone here agrees that rapid spending cuts, consolidation and a prompt reassessment of the situation is crucial – if we don’t get this done ASAP, we’re finished. Before we get down to details, Fiona, what’s the situation with our overseas stores?

Fiona: Well Alan, if we look at the new stores we’ve opened in Europe over the past year, we can see exactly where the sales problems lie. Every single store is in the red. Some are losing upwards of $7,000 per month. We’ll be back on track if we solve the overseas issue. Firstly, as Mark mentioned, a lack of market research has really hurt us internationally. It’s just not been as easy as we thought to break into what are already saturated markets. If we had spent more on investigating overseas markets and less on breakneck expansion, things might have been very different. In short, if you want this company to survive, get out of Europe, fast.

put our heads together: réfléchissons ensemble ; rassemblons nos efforts pour

to turn a profit: faire du profit

reckless: imprudent, irréfléchi, téméraire

hasty: hâtif

in the red: dans le rouge

to be back on track: être de nouveau sur les rails

breakneck: à une allure folle

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Now go back through the dialogue and find the if-clauses within the text which correspond to the following statements. Answers are at the end of the lesson.

  1. Cette folie a été engendrée par un comportement inconsidéré.
  2. Nous perdons de l’argent en Europe.
  3. Est-ce que tout le monde pourrait essayer d’arriver à l’heure?
  4. Nous devons résoudre ce problème, sinon nous serons tous au chômage.
  5. En bref, nous devrions fermer nos usines en Europe.
  6. Nous n’aurions pas dû effectuer des modifications.
  7. Le responsable devrait prendre certaines décisions : par exemple, désormais ne plus être si téméraire.
  8. Tout le monde est là?
  9. Personne n’aurait écouté les mises en garde d’une potentielle récession.
  10. Le temps ne joue pas en notre faveur dans cette affaire.
  11. Nous pouvons redresser la situation à l’étranger.

*

USING “IF” WITH PRESENT

IF + PRESENT SIMPLE + PRESENT SIMPLE

When we use the present with “if”, it is usually to make a general statement.

e.g.      If the traffic light goes red, you have to stop your car.

When “if” is in the present, the statement can be true at any time.

USING “IF” WITH FUTURE

IF + PRESENT SIMPLE + WILL

Because we are talking about something that may occur in the future, we use “will” instead of “be going to” for this construction. When we use “if” with the future, it is to talk about a possible outcome or event. We are making a prediction.

e.g.      I’ll walk to work tomorrow, if it’s sunny.

NOTE: We can rearrange the sentence so that the “if” clause comes at the end instead of at the start, but we cannot use “will” with “if” (i.e. If I will understand correctly, you’ll deliver it on Thursday).

When we use “if” with the future, we feel that there is a real possibility of the event/action happening.

USING “IF” WITH MODALS (present and future reference)

IF + PAST SIMPLE + MODAL

We use modals with “if” when we are imagining the present or future to be different to how it is now. It is used often to talk about dreams, hopes, fears and hypotheses.

e.g.      If I was a millionaire, I could do whatever I want to.

If he had enough free time, he might think about doing some charity work.

If I were you, I would quit your job.

When we use “if” with modals to talk about the present or future, we are talking about something unreal. This means that the subject/situation is either unreal, unlikely or untrue.

USING “IF” WITH MODALS (past reference)

IF + PAST PERFECT + MODAL + HAVE + PAST PARTICIPLE

We use this construction to talk about how something could have been done differently. The idea is that we are giving an alternative to something which happened in the past.

e.g.      If I had started writing my report earlier, I wouldn’t have worked overtime last week.

The past cannot be changed, so the situation is impossible, and used for reflect or regret only.

USING “IF” WITH THE IMPERATIVE

IF + (PAST/PRESENT/FUTURE) + IMPERATIVE

We use the imperative with “if” to give an order which is reliant on or conditional on a certain event/action.

e.g.      If you want some dinner, do it yourself!

If you’re going to be busy, don’t call until tomorrow.

NOTE: We don’t use “will” in the “if” part of the clause, instead, if necessary, we use “be going to”.

ff

f

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f

Now complete the following sentences. If no verb is provided in brackets, then choose an appropriate one, if one is provided, then conjugate it correctly. Answers are at the end of the article.

  1. If I __________ time last year, I __________  (write) a novel.
  2. You __________ catch a cold if you __________ careful, going outdoors without a coat.
  3. If you __________ to be promoted this year, __________ harder.
  4. If multinational companies ever ___________ (stop) to think about what they’re doing to the environment, thing __________ change.
  5. If she __________ (find) a wallet on the floor, she __________ definitely hand it in.
  6. I __________ (call) you if I __________ (find) the earring that you’ve lost in my kitchen.
  7. He __________ do with a drink, if you __________ free to meet him.
  8. If the problem __________ untreated, it __________ life threatening.
  9. If you __________ home, you __________ leave now before it starts snowing.
  10. In government, if no one party __________ an overall majority, we say that there __________ a hung parliament.

Now correct the sentences below that are wrong. Some are correct and some are incorrect.

  1. If it’ll make my trip more environmentally friendly, I’m happy to use public transport.
  2. If I will press this button, will the message send?
  3. If you tell me where the key is, I’ll open the door.
  4. I would be bilingual in 5 years, if I keep speaking English every day at work.
  5. If I was a man, I would have a better chance of getting a promotion.
  6. You can cross the street if the light is going to be green.
  7. It’s delicious, but if I eat any more, I would not be able to eat my dessert.

*

“If” is a word which can change the past, present or future, and can provide a new perspective on a subject. Here is a famous inspirational poem by Rudyard Kipling, whose structure is based on « if ».

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: « Hold on »;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

Adamique offre des cours d’anglais et de français à Montréal. Visitez notre site web pour plus d’informations !

Adamique offers French and English classes in Montreal. Visit our website for more information!

Adamique在蒙特利尔提供法语和英语培训课程。更多信息请访问我们的网站.

www.adamique.com

Answers:

  1. We wouldn’t be in this mess if we had been less hasty about expanding into new areas.
  2. If we look at the new stores we’ve opened in Europe over the past year, we can see exactly where the sales problems lie.
  3. If the meetings started on time, we could all leave on time… Please in future arrive on time.
  4. If the company keeps losing money like this, we will all be out of a job by next year.
  5. In short, if you want this company to survive, get out of Europe, fast.
  6. “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”
  7. If I was in charge, I know what I’d do: consolidate, get rid of any stores that aren’t turning a profit, and never be so reckless with expansion again.
  8. So, if we’re all here let’s begin the meeting.
  9. If someone had warned us that a potential global economic crisis could leave us all exposed after rapid expansion, who would have listened to them?
  10. If we don’t get this done ASAP, we’re finished.
  11. If we solve the overseas issues, we’ll be back on track.

  1. If I had had time last year, I would have written a novel.
  2. You’ll catch a cold if you’re not careful going outdoors without a coat.
  3. If you want to be promoted this year, work harder.
  4. If multinational companies ever stopped to think about what they’re doing to the environment, thing might change.
  5. If she found a wallet on the floor, she would definitely hand it in.
  6. I’ll call you if I find the earring that you’ve lost in my kitchen.
  7. He could do with a drink, if you’re free to meet him.
  8. If the problem remains untreated, it can become life threatening.
  9. If you’re going to go home, you had better leave now before it starts snowing.
  10. In government, if no one party has an overall majority, we say that there is a hung parliament.

  1. If it’ll make my trip more environmentally friendly, I’m happy to use public transport.
  2. If I will press this button, will the message send?
  3. If you tell me where the key is, I’ll open the door.
  4. I would will be bilingual in 5 years, if I keep speaking English every day at work.
  5. If I was a man, I would have a better chance of getting a promotion.
  6. You can cross the street if the light is going to be green.
  7. It’s delicious, but if I eat any more, I would not won’t be able to eat my dessert.

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