Regarding "if" and "when"

Subject: Regarding "if" and "when"
From: Daniel Strychalski <dski -at- CAMEONET -dot- CAMEO -dot- COM -dot- TW>
Date: Sun, 2 Jul 1995 08:18:01 +0800

Pat Madea asked about when to use "if" and when to use "when," and asked
what difference there might be between "If a truck is in READY status, it is
available for assignment" and "When a truck is in READY status, it is
available for assignment."

Putting them in context might help:

Q: "How can I tell which trucks are available?"
A: "Check each truck's status. If a truck is in READY status, it is
available for assignment."

Q: "What's all this stuff about 'READY status'? What does that mean?"
A: "When [we say] a truck is in READY status, [we mean] it is available
for assignment."

Q: "So the mechanic fixes it and lists it as 'ready.' What happens next?"
A: "When [or once] a truck is [i.e., has been placed] in READY status, it
is available for assignment."

(BTW, "in READY status" sounds a bit awkward to me except when used with
"placed." Assuming I just *had* to put "status" in the description, I think
I would write "If a truck has a status of 'ready'" or "When a truck's status
is [listed as] READY.")

The context might not *always* suggest one or the other, but I think it
often will. When I understand the question correctly, that is. Anyone
disagree? Fire if ready!

Always follow the dictates of your context. Dan Strychalski
dski -at- cameonet -dot- cameo -dot- com -dot- tw


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