GYG Day 31. When or if

Do you remember that we use the present simple* after words like if, when, before etc, even if there is a future idea/meaning? Let’s take a look at 2 examples:

“Say hi to Dave when you will* see him.” (The person is sure that he/she will see Dave later)

“Say hi to Dave if you will* see him” (The person isN’T sure that he/she will see Dave later)

*Remember, don’t use ‘will’ even though it is a future idea. Strangely enough, what do you think the answer could to those requests? “Yes, will do” because it is a future idea.

Did you notice the subtle difference in meaning in the above sentences? What’s the difference between ‘If’ and ‘when’? ‘When’ is used for ‘a sure thing’ aka 100% whereas ‘if’ is for ‘unsure things’ aka up to 99%.

Differentiating ‘when’ and ‘if’ isn’t really so much the problem but when German speakers are in full flow and  often translating out of German as they go, they use ‘when’ instead of ‘if’ in an ‘unsure’ aka ‘if situation’ as the German word is, of course, very similar i.e. “Wenn”!

Check out the following sentence:

If you place your valuables in the safe, you will prevent theft.

‘If part’                                                          ‘result part’

If + present simple (here:place),              will + infinitive (here:prevent)

100% crime prevention isn’t possible, however, the chances of preventing theft, if you place your valuables in a safe are high aka ‘probable’/ ’likely’.

Talking about ‘probable’ situations, we use the first ‘conditional’. Here’s a motivational quote I picked up along the way, which uses the first conditional form:

“If you do what is easy, your life will be hard!”

“If you do what is hard, your life will be easy!”

A quick exercise as a crime prevention police officer (your new job), create 5 crime prevention tactics for the following crimes. 1) mugging, 2) burglary, 3) computer crime 4) car theft 5) shoplifting

  1. If you …………….. , you will prevent mugging.
  2. If you …………….. , etc…………………………..

‘strangely enough’ (komischerweise), request (Bitte), to notice (erkennen), subtle (fein), to differentiate (unterscheiden), to be in full flow (richtig in Fahrt sein), valuables (Wertsachen), safe (Tresor), to prevent (etw verhindern), theft (Diebstahl), however (jedoch), probable / likely (Wahrscheinlich), quote (Zitat), mugging (Straßenraub), burglary (Einbruch), car theft (Autodebstahl), shoplifting (Ladendiebstahl)

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