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If / Unless - Subordinating Conjunctions

If and "unless" are both conjunctions. They connect two sentences.

They are both used to give a condition.

We studied "if" a lot in the Conditional Lessons. You can study all the details about "if" in the lessons about conditionals.

In this lesson, we will just look at the sentence structure.

If + condition, + (then) action/result

We can use real conditionals with present tense verbs and we can use unreal conditionals with past tense verbs.
  • If it doesn't rain, I will go.
  • If I won the lottery, I would buy a new house.
  • If I get the promotion, then I will be happy.
  • If she wants to be successful, then she needs to work harder.
Action/Result + if + condition

Do not use "then" with this sentence pattern.
  • I will go if the weather is nice.
  • You can lose weight if you exercise.
  • You should go to Europe if you haven't been there yet.
  • He would cry if he knew that.
"Unless" has the same meaning as "if...not" or "except if...". The sentence patterns are the same as "if".

"Unless" is not used with the past tense.

Unless + condition, + action/result
  • Unless it rains, I will come.
    (=If it doesn't rain, I will come.)

  • Unless you can do it, I will do it.
    (=I will do it except if you can do it.)
    (=I will do it, but I will not do it if you can do it.)

  • Unless you have a solution, stop talking.
    (=If you do not have a solution, stop talking.)

  • Unless you are rude to her, she is nice to you.
    (=If you are nice to her, she is nice to you.)
Action/Result + unless + condition
  • We will eat Indian food unless you do not want to.
    (=We will eat Indian food except if you do not want to.)
    (=We will eat Indian food, but if you don't want to, then we won't.)

  • I am going to the party unless he is going because I hate him.
    (=I am going to the party except if he is going because I hate him.)
    (=I am going to the party, but if he is going, then I will not because I hate him.)

  • Let's go unless it rains.
    (=Let's go if it doesn't rain.)
    (=Let's go except if it rains.)
Practice speaking English and improve your English grammar by finishing the sentences below and then practice making your own sentences. It is a great way to learn English and improve your English fluency. Also, do not forget to try using it in real life.

If I have time tomorrow, then I will _______________.
If she doesn't come to my party, I will feel _______________.
If didn't have to work today, I would _______________.
If all of my friends are busy this weekend, I will _______________.
If a had extra money, I would buy _______________.
She would _______________ if she had more time.
I would like to visit _______________ if I could.
Unless it is too hot, I will _______________.
Unless it is too expensive, I will buy _______________.
I will _______________ unless _______________.
She will _______________ unless _______________.
I study English _______________ unless _______________.

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