What Is Their Main Difference?
In this section, we will discover more about 'when' and 'if' including the meaning they express and their parts of speech.
We use 'when' to express certain events in the future. In other words, we are sure these events will occur. Note that while the time reference is in the future, we use present tense in the 'when-clause.'
I will make dinner
We use 'if' to talk about things that we are not certain about. In other words, these events are unlikely to happen.
I ill have to save money
'If' is also used to introduce conditions. We use it to show that an action or event happens when another action is fulfilled. Here, 'if' is used as a conjunction.
You can take the car with you
Note that the decision of choosing between 'when' and 'if' remains on the speaker. It depends on whether something is certain or not in our opinion. Have a look:
I will buy a car
when I win the lottery.
The example above may seem correct but we are not sure whether or not we will win the lottery, therefore we must use 'if.'
I will buy a car
Are They Interchangeable?
'When' and 'if' are interchangeable when we are talking about general things. Note that in this context, 'if' means 'whenever.'
I keep quiet
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