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How to use the word ‘IF’ to improve your English at work

  • English level: intermediate, upper intermediate & advanced /  B1, B2 & C1
  • English Skills: advanced grammar; speaking & writing
  • Time: 5-10 mins

Learn 6 ways to use the word ‘IF’ to improve your English when you speak and write email at work.

Did you know that this little word … ‘IF’ … has many functions in English?! Read on to discover an easy way to upgrade your English fluency!

1. How to use the word 'if' to give advice

We often use the phrase If I were you to give advice.

For example:

  • If I were you, I’d look for a new job.
  • I’d try speaking with her again if I were you.

2. How to use the word 'if' to make an offer

The phrases If you like or If you want are often used to introduce offers.

For example:

  • I’ll help at the trade fair, if you like.
  • If you like I can pick you up on the way to the event.

3. How to use the word 'if' to ask permission

We can use if in requests for permission after the phrases Is it OK/all right and with the phrases Do you mind/Would you mind

For example:

  • Is it ok if I leave early tomorrow?
  • Is it all right if Mark joins the meeting?
  • Do you mind if I don’t attend the conference call tomorrow?

To learn more about polite and diplomatic advanced English, see our post How Learning Polite & Diplomatic Advanced English Can Help Your Career

4. How to use the word 'if' to make a promise or talk about future possibility

We can use IF in 1st conditional sentences to talk about the possible future. This is often used when you want to make a promise.

For example:

  • If you buy the latest model, we will give you a free service next year.
  • I’ll definitely move there if we open the new office in London.

5.  How to use the word 'if' to make a suggestion

We can use the 1st and 2nd conditional sentences with if to make suggestions for action.

For example:

  • If you want that job, you should get a certificate of English.
  • If you had invested in that company you would be rich by now.

6.  How to use the word 'if' to make a request

The phrase I would be grateful if you could is a polite way of making a request.  Other phrases that are similar are I was wondering if you would… and I’d appreciate it if you could … 

For example: 

  • I’d be grateful if you could send me a copy of your catalogue?
  • I was wondering if I could have a quote by Friday?

ACTIVATE!

1. Play a quick round of memory to see if you can match the ‘if’ phrase to the function

2. Match the phrases to make full sentences

3. Write your own examples in the comments for feedback

That’s it for this lesson. I hope you liked it. If you did, please share!

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Responses

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  1. Hello – thank you Karin for very useful lesson.
    1. Request: I was wondering if you can tell me in the end of the week.
    2. Promise: I will give you the discount if you write a review on our page please.
    3. Offer: If you like I can introduce you to my friends.
    4. Advice: I would study more if I were you

    Thank you!

    1. Thank you Angela! Good examples, well done.

      ps. A little correction > in the end of the week. = by the end of the week.

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