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Did you know that it is sometimes possible to use ‘will’ after ‘if’ and ‘when’? Here is the freedom lovers’ guide to when you CAN use it

It is true that when using the following words you should be careful when you are using ‘will’:

if / when  / after / until / in case.

In fact, in most cases you should not use will with these words.  It is one of the stranger rules in English, and therefore it is one of the most common mistakes English learners make.

Here are some examples of sentences where you cannot use will:

‘I will call you when I will arrive at the station’       

‘We will see each other after I will come back from my holidays’ 

‘We should take an umbrella in case it will rains’ 

So why can’t we use will? What exactly is the rule?

If it is already clear that you are talking about the future, as it is for all of the sentences above, then you shouldn’t use will after if/when/after etc.

As you can see again in the same examples below, you have already used will in the first part of each sentence, so it is clear that you are talking about the future. This means that after if / when  / after / until / in case, you shouldn’t use it again:

‘I will call you when I will arrive at the station’       

‘We will see each other after I will come back from my holidays’ 

Also with modal verbs like should and can it is clear that we are talking about the future, so we shouldn’t use will after if / when etc.:

‘We should take an umbrella in case it will rains’ 

In fact, this covers nearly every situation when you are talking about the future, but there are a few exceptions:

  • Asking questions with phrases like ‘do you know’  ’can you tell me’:

Do you know if we will get the chance to see the castle on the tour?’

Could you tell me when the train will arrive in London’

I’m not sure if it will be nice weather for a barbecue later’

I have no idea when John will arrive into town’

So to make things easier, really all you need to remember is that if you are asking questions like those above, and talking about things you don’t know, you should use will with if and when, all other times you should not.

It is also possible to use will after if in some conditional sentences..

Real conditional sentences look like the one below:

‘If I miss my bus I will be late’ or ‘I will be late if I miss my bus’

In these sentences, it doesn’t matter whether the ‘if’ part comes first or not in the sentence, the ‘if’ part is always the first thing that happens:

  1. I miss my bus
  2. I will be late

This is the same for nearly all conditional sentences you make with if, and we NEVER use ‘will’ here after ‘if’:

‘If you help me I will pay you’ / ‘I will pay you if you help me’

1. You help me

2. I will pay you

But sometimes the ‘if part is the second thing that happens:

‘If it will help you I will bring in some exercises to try’ ‘I will bring in some exercises to try if it will help you’

1. I will bring in some exercises for you to try

2. It will help you

You won’t see these sentences very often, but you may want to use one, here is another example:

‘If it will make you happy I will open the window’

1st conditional-page-001

Here again the ‘if’ part is the second thing that happens, ad this is where you can use ‘will’ with ‘if’ in conditional sentences.

Compare these diagrams:

1st conditional-page-001      1st conditional-page-001

Here the ‘if’ part is the second thing that happens         Here the ‘if’ part is the first thing that happens

                  USE WILL WITH IF HERE                                                  DON’T USE WILL WITH IF HERE

 

Here are some more examples to explain this more clearly:

‘I will help you if you help me first’

1. You help me
2. I will help you

‘I will help you if you will help me after’

1. I will help you
2. You will help me

Again these sentences using will with if are not so common, but sometimes they are necessary and can be very useful! Find out some more useful forms of 1st conditional sentences right here!

For more information on conditionals, including exercises, email me at david@fluencyspace.com, or message me on Skype at live:fluencyspace! Click here for more useful Business English grammar! 

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 David Cox

 Fluency Space

 Make the world your fluency space. Business English for career and life success

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