Home grammar Unraveling the IFs and WHENs and some Passive Constructions

Unraveling the IFs and WHENs and some Passive Constructions


Understanding the nuances between “IF” and “WHEN” in the English language is crucial for effective communication. While both words introduce conditional clauses, their usage differs significantly. “IF” sets the stage for a condition or hypothetical situation, whereas “WHEN” is employed to denote a definite event or circumstance. This article will delve into the distinctions between these two conjunctions and explore how they shape the meaning of sentences. Additionally, we will touch upon more complex structures, specifically the passive progressive tenses, to enhance our grasp of these linguistic concepts.

The difference between IF and WHEN

While IF pertains condition, WHEN refers to a certain situation:

Take something from the fridge if you are hungry

Call me when you are at the post office

Some passive progressive tenses

Now let us take a look a what the passive forms of Present Progressive and Past Progressive are:

They are writing the letter – The letter is being written

They were writing the letter – The letter was being written

More advanced constructions in passive voice:

It + is + verb + that

  • This construction expresses a general idea about something; what people think

It is believed that the forest is haunted

It is known that he is in prison

It is thought that an economic crisis is on the way

Subject + is + verb 3 + to

  • This construction also expresses a general idea about something but we start the sentence with the subject

He is believed to have been a member of the mafia

My neighbor is known to have a lot of companies abroad

Mastering the subtleties between “IF” and “WHEN” allows for precise and contextually accurate communication. Whether expressing hypothetical scenarios or pinpointing specific events, choosing the right conjunction ensures clarity in conveying intended meanings. Moreover, delving into the passive progressive tenses provides a deeper understanding of English language structures, offering more sophisticated ways to express ideas. By recognizing the distinctions between these conjunctions and incorporating advanced constructions, individuals can elevate their language skills and communicate with greater precision and nuance.