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Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha and today, I'm going to talk about the difference between "if" and "when." Some of you have asked questions about this and I've noticed that some people make some key and maybe dangerous mistakes between these two words. So, let's talk about when to use them.
Okay, let's talk about "when" first. We use "when" when there's 100% certainty something is going to happen. For example, with travel plans, "when you arrive in the country," or "when you get to my house," for example, or, "when you register for classes." So, 100% certainty something is going to happen. I've made a timeline here, as I like to do, on a timeline here, the image you can think about is that when, I've used a green line here, it's going to happen, it's definitely going to happen. We use "when" when we know something is going to happen, there's 100% certainty here. This is a key point, it's going to happen.
"If," on the other hand, we use "if" if there's only a chance something is going to happen. There's only a chance, it is not determined, it is not something that has been decided. "If" is used for a chance something will occur. "If" is not used in cases where we know something is going to happen or something should happen. "If" is only used to express chance or possibility. On the same timeline here in red, I've made a dotted line to express "if." There's a possibility in the future something might happen, there's a chance in the future something might happen. In these cases, we use "if." For example, "if you lose your student ID card," "if you get lost," for example.
So, please, please be careful. Don't use "if" in cases where there's 100% certainty something is going to happen. And, on the other hand, don't use "when" in cases where there's only a chance something will happen. Making a mistake between these two words can destroy relationships or it can just--it can really cause some serious confusion. So, I made a few examples sentences that I've actually seen, some that are similar to these. Let's take a look and see why making a mistake could be really, really dangerous or could really damage a relationship if you make a mistake with these two. Let's take a look.
Alright, so, first sentence. "Blah, blah, blah, we break up what are you going to do? So, if you don't know the word, "breakup," it means to end a romantic relationship, to break up with someone. Here, let's think, "if" or "when." If we look at this rule, if I say "when," if I'm speaking to my partner, if I say, "When we break up, what are you going to do?" If I choose the word, "when," it sounds like, in my mind, to me, I've decided, I know 100%, I'm certain, we are going to break up. This sounds very, very sad and probably to my partner if my partner doesn't know my feelings. So, if I say, "When we break up, what are you going to do?" It sounds like I've decided to end their relationship. That's probably not what I want to say. In this case, let's use "if." "If we break up," there's a chance, "If we break up, what are you going to do?" So, let's use "if" here. Of course, this is a very serious sentence anyway but using "if" shows there's only a chance of a breakup. "When" shows it's definite, you've decided already. So, please be careful.
Let's look at another very interesting sentence. "Something, something, your wallet gets stolen, call me." "Your wallet gets stolen," so, here, if I use "when" here, "When your wallet gets stolen, call me," means the speaker expects the listener's wallet will be stolen. That sounds very, very strange, a little mysterious, right? So, "If your wallet gets stolen," however, it sounds like there's a chance, maybe the listener is going somewhere dangerous, for example. So, in this case, "if" is a much better choice, "when" sounds like the speaker has some secret plan, maybe. "When your wallet gets stolen," sounds like the speaker has maybe made plans or knows mysteriously somehow that the listener's wallet is going to get stolen. Let's use "if" in this sentence.
Here's another one. "Blah, blah, blah, you hear screaming," so, "screaming" means loud terrified voice. "If you hear a loud terrified screaming voice, don't worry." So, if you say, "When you hear screaming, don't worry," or, "If you hear screaming, don't worry." So, I suppose if it's around Halloween, for example, and you're at a haunted house, you could say "when," in this case. But if you're in a regular situation and someone wants to warn you of something, it sounds a bit strange to say, "When you hear screaming, don't worry." But, maybe, "if" is a better choice here. "If you hear screaming, don't worry," maybe your friend, for example, is making a crazy video outside and they're going to shout a lot, for example. So, there's a chance you may hear screaming. This one is probably better for "If you hear." Of course, in some cases, like I said, in a haunted house situation, maybe you could use the word "when," "When you hear screaming, don't worry." But, in most cases, "if" is probably a better choice here.
Let's look at another one. "Let's get a beer blah, blah, blah, the plane lands." So, this sentence, the nuance here is the speaker is on a plane, riding on a plane in the air right now because I have the verb, "lands." "Lands" means to touch the land, to stop flying. So, here, "Let's get a beer," "if" or "when." "If" sounds like there's only a chance the plane is going to land. "When" sounds like there's a 100% chance the plane is going to land. So, it's probably a better choice to use "when" here. We know the plane is going to land. Unless it's an extreme case like a plane crash, hopefully, not. But, "Let's get a beer when the plane lands," is a better choice for this sentence.
Okay, next one. "Blah, blah, blah he gets fired for this, he's going to be in trouble." So, if we use "when" here. By the way, "fired" means lose your job. So, "When he gets fired for this," sounds like the speaker knows, he, this person, is going to lose his job here. However, if we use "if," sounds like there's only a chance or the speaker does not know whether or not he is going to lose his job. So, "if" is probably a better choice here. Of course, if the speaker somehow knows information, they could use the word "when," in this case, but, it's probably better to use "if" to show there's only a chance that this person could get fired for this situation.
Okay. Let's look at one more. "She said she would text me, 'when' or 'if' she had time to get together." This is a situation where both "if" and "when" are possible. So, we can use "if" and we can use "when" here. The nuance, though, "She will text me if she has time," so, "if she has time," means there's only a chance. "She has time," in other words. If we use "when," "she" in this sentence, she expects she is going to have time in the future. "She said she would text me when she had time," meaning she expects to have time and she's going to text the listener. If, however, the sentence is "if," "She said she would text me if she had time," means "she," in the sentence, this person, she says, "she" means there's only a chance she'll have time. So, please be careful. Sometimes, both "if" and "when" are correct but the nuance is a little bit different. So, please keep sentences like these in mind. Sometimes, especially in a sentence like the first example we looked at, we can potentially really, really damage relationships if we make a mistake between "if" and "when." So, please consider this.
If you have any questions, though, or if you want to try to make an example sentence, please do so in the comment section below this video. Thanks very much for watching this video. If you liked it, please make sure to give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel too. Check us out at EnglishClass101.com for more stuff as well. Thanks very much for watching and we'll see you again soon. Bye.

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Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Friday at 04:42 PM
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Hello Shelly,


Thank you for joining us and for the lovely feedback!


We wish you all the success in your studies and thank you again.


Regards,

ร‰va

Team EnglishClass101.com

Shelly
Wednesday at 03:15 PM
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Alisha, If you visit London, Please call me.

When you need a tourist guide, don't hesitate to call me.

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Friday at 06:38 PM
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Hello there Mukti ,


Thank you for your question.


A 'nuance' is a subtle difference in meaning, expression, or sound. In this case it means 'it depends on the way this is being said - there could be 2 interpretations.'


I hope this is helpful to you.


Kindly,

Eva

Team EnglishClass101.com

Mukti Prakash Datta
Friday at 07:22 AM
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what do you mean " The nuance, though," ?

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Tuesday at 07:19 PM
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Hi Simona,


Thank you for your positive feedback! Glad to hear that you're enjoying the lessons!


In case of any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.


Sincerely,

Cristiane

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Simona
Tuesday at 05:57 PM
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This Lesson was very understandble and helpful! Thanks!

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Sunday at 05:43 PM
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Hi everyone!


Glad to hear that you're enjoying the lessons!


In case of any questions, please feel free to contact us.


@Ouahida,


Thank you for your comment.


Please make sure to have a QuickTime player installed -> www.apple.com/quicktime/download/ and have the latest update of your browser. Alternatively, you can try with different browser, or downloading the video to your device and viewing it from there.


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Nelson
Friday at 11:11 PM
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Thank you very much, Alisha, it was an interesting, helpful class.

ouahida
Friday at 06:31 PM
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hello i find it difficult to watch and download the video

Khanh Hoang
Friday at 11:37 AM
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I'd like this video