When/If

Einleitung

When and if are easily confused, sometimes they are interchangeable and sometimes they aren’t. Here we explain the difference between when and if in English.

Whenever Jenny and Paul go on holiday, they always go to the sea.

When the wind are condition are right Paul goes sailing.

If it’s sunny, Jenny will relax on the beach.

When it’s time to leave, they pack their bags and head to the train station.

If they lived by the sea, they would spend all their time at the beach.

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If

  • Use if for an action or event in the future that you are unsure will take place.
Beispiel:
If it’s sunny, Jenny will relax on the beach.

if = in case of or in the event that

  • Use if in conditional sentences.
Beispiel:
If they lived by the sea, they would spend all their time at the beach.{{

For more on conditional sentences see: if-clauses.

When

  • Use when for an action or event in the future that you are certain will take place.
Example:
When it’s time to leave, they pack their bags and head to the train station.{{info::}}

we know that Jenny and Paul will eventually go home

If and When

We can use if or when + present verb to talk about repeated actions. In this case if and when mean whenever (every or at any time).

Example:
Whenever Jenny and Paul go on holiday, they go to the sea.{{info::}}
When the wind conditions are right, Paul goes sailing.{{info::}}
If it’s sunny, Jenny goes to the beach.{{info::}}

See also if/whether.

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