What is the difference between "If" and "When" in a conditional clause?


For these two expressions:

I will give it to you when I no longer need it.

I will give it to you if I no longer need it.

Let us say it is an object such as a book or a laptop or something similar. Is there any difference between the meanings of these two sentences?


Posted 2013-03-11T12:59:19.807

Reputation: 3 336



The first assumes that a time will definitely come when the speaker’s need for the object comes to an end. The second makes no such assumption.

Barrie England

Posted 2013-03-11T12:59:19.807

Reputation: 7 553


The first sentence assumes that there will come a time that you won't need the object. So in a certain point in the future you will give the object to the person you're speaking to.

The second sentence makes no assumptions and means that only if you don't need the object, you will give it. However, you might need the thing and the described situation will never occur.


Posted 2013-03-11T12:59:19.807

Reputation: 394