if Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “if” in the English Dictionary

"if" in British English

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ifconjunction

uk   us   /ɪf/
  • if conjunction (IN THAT SITUATION)

A2 used to say that a ​particular thing can or will ​happen only after something ​elsehappens or ​becomestrue: I'll ​pay you ​double if you get the ​workfinished by ​Friday. We'll have the ​party in the ​garden if the weather's good. If not (= if the ​weather is not good), it'll have to be inside. If anyone ​calls, just say I'll be back in the ​office at four o'clock. If she hadn't called, I wouldn't have ​known. I wouldn't ​work for them (​even) if they ​paid me ​twice my ​currentsalary. We'll ​deal with that ​problem if and when it ​arises. If ​disturbed, the ​bird may ​abandon the ​nest, ​leaving the ​chicks to ​die. although: They're ​greatkids, even if they can be ​demanding.literary It was a ​hot, if ​windyday.B1 every ​time: If ​water is ​heated to 100°C it ​turns to ​steam. If I don't get enough ​sleep I get a ​headache. used to ​mean "if it is ​true that": I'm very ​sorry if I've ​offended you.

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  • if conjunction (WHETHER)

B1 used to ​introduce a clause, often in indirectspeech, that ​shows two or more ​possibilities: Mrs Kramer called ​half an ​hour ago to ​ask if her ​cake was ​ready. I don't ​care if he ​likes it or not - I'm coming! I was ​wondering if you'd like to come to the ​cinema with me this ​evening?
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  • if conjunction (REQUEST)

used when you ​want to make a ​politerequest or ​remark: If you'd like to take a ​seat, Mr Chang will be with you in a ​moment. Would you ​mind if I ​open/​opened (= can I ​open) the ​window? There are, if you don't ​mind me saying so, one or two ​problems with this ​plan.
Grammar

ifnoun [C usually singular]

uk   us   /ɪf/ informal
something that is not ​certain or not ​yetdecided: There's a big if ​hanging over the ​project (= it is ​uncertain whether the ​project will ​happen).
(Definition of if from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"if" in American English

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ifconjunction

 us   /ɪf/
  • if conjunction (IN THAT SITUATION)

used to say that a ​particular thing can or will ​happen when, only when, or after something ​elsehappens or ​becomestrue: We’ll have the ​party in the ​backyard if the weather’s good. If anyone ​calls for me, just say I’ll be back at 4 o’clock. Would you ​mind if I ​opened the ​window (= May I ​open it)? If is also used to ​talk about the ​amount or ​degree of something: This ​time of ​year we get little, if any, ​rain (= ​almost none). If can ​mean when: If I don’t have a ​cup of ​coffee in the ​morning, I’m ​useless. If can also ​mean in ​case it is ​true that: I’m ​sorry if I’ve ​offended you.if it weren't for When you say if it weren't for or (also if it hadn't been for)something, you ​mean if it were not ​true or had not ​happened, the ​situation would be different: If it weren’t for ​yourhelp, we would never have ​finished in ​time.
  • if conjunction (WHETHER)

(used to ​introduce a ​clause, often when ​reporting what someone ​else said) whether: Mrs. Kramer called to ​ask if her ​cake was ​ready.

ifnoun [C]

 us   /ɪf/
  • if noun [C] (UNCERTAIN SITUATION)

something that is not ​yetcertain or not ​yetdecided: The ​plancontains a lot of ifs.
(Definition of if from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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