The word "if" is a conjunction used for conditions and situations that may or may not be true. The word "if" also addresses possibility:

  • Do you know if it’s going to snow tonight?
  • If they move to Houston, they’ll sell everything they have.
  • If your boss gives you a raise, will you work harder?
  • Sonia doesn’t know if she wants to get married right now.
  • The ticket agent didn’t know if the train would be on time.
  • I can’t help you if you don’t study more.
  • Hamdi isn’t sure if she’ll be able to immigrate to the United States.

You’ll notice that "if" comes before a clause (a subject and a verb); however, it’s also possible to hear the word used as a noun in expressions like these:

  • It’s not a matter of if but when. (Something is very likely to happen.)
  • There will be no ifs, ands, or buts if you’re late for work again. You will be fired. (Something is going to happen.)

You might also hear the word "iffy" as an adjective. It’s not a word I would choose when a situation is questionable, but you will hear it if you live in the U.S.

  • They’re kind of iffy on the colors for their living room.
  • Caroline is iffy about living in Florida.
  • Jose and Mirna are still iffy about getting married.
  • Whether or not we get a lot of snow tonight is still iffy.

Click here to learn more words.

This page was first published on March 3, 2013. It was updated on January 30, 2017.