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Unless means the same as if…not. Like if, it is followed by a present tense, a past tense or a past perfect (never by ‘would’). It is used instead of if + not in conditional sentences of all types:

Type 1: (Unless + present)
a. You’ll be sick unless you stop eating. (= You will be sick if you don’t stop eating)

b. I won’t pay unless you provide the goods immediately. (= If you don’t provide them I won’t pay)

c. You’ll never understand English unless you study this grammar carefully. (= You’ll never understand if you don’t study…)

Type 2: (Unless + past)
a. Unless he was very ill, he would be at work.

b. I wouldn’t eat that food unless I was really hungry.

c. She would be here by now unless she was stuck in the traffic.

Type 3: (Unless + past perfect)
a. The elephant wouldn’t have seen the mouse unless she’d had perfect eyesight.

b. I wouldn’t have phoned him unless you’d suggested it.

c. They would have shot her unless she’d given them the money.


June 13, 2008 - Posted by | Learn English - Tenses

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