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Jada Chang
What does 'what if' mean and how to use it?
6 Th03 2008 15:41
Answers · 2
"What if X?" means roughly "If X is true, then what are the consequences?" or "If X becomes true, then what will the consequences be?" "We don't have any umbrellas. What if it rains?" "It won't rain. Don't worry about it." "But what if it does?" "Then we'll get wet!" "It's 6pm already! What if we're late?" "Then we'll be in trouble." Note the similar phrase "So what if X?" which means roughly "I don't care what the consequences are if X is true": "It might rain!" "So what if it does! I don't care about rain!" "But we might get wet!" "So what if we do!"
6 tháng 3 năm 2008
I just thought of something further to add to the answer I already gave. The phrase "what if" is often used when people are worrying about something. When they ask "What if X?" they don't really want to know about the consequences of X. They want to be reassured / encouraged / comforted. In other words, they want someone to say "X will not happen anyway, so there is no reason to even consider it". To give an example, suppose that someone says to their friend: "I'm worried about my exams. What if I fail?" The friend will probably NOT reply like this: "If you fail, then you won't get a good job, you'll have no money, and your life will be miserable." Instead, they will probably say something like this: "Don't worry. You studied hard. I'm sure you did really well in your exams. You won't fail. Everything's going to be alright." So if someone says "What if X?", you need to consider whether they are (1) looking for information about the consequences of X; or (2) looking for reassurance about something which is worrying them.
6 tháng 3 năm 2008
Jada Chang
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Cantonese), English
Learning Language
Chinese (Cantonese), English