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Expressing "if" with "ruguo... dehua"

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如果⋯⋯的话 (rúguǒ... dehuà) is a pattern commonly used in Chinese to express "if." An easy way to remember the pattern's format is that in the full form, the condition is "sandwiched" between 如果 and 的话.

Fuller Pattern

Structure

如果 ⋯⋯ 的话 ,(就) ⋯⋯

Note that 就 (jiù) is often optional. For more on using 如果 with 就, check out the "if…, then…" two-part pattern with 如果……就…….

Examples

  • 如果 明天 下雨 的话 ,我们 不 去 了 。Rúguǒ míngtiān xiàyǔ dehuà, wǒmen jiù bù qù le.If it rains tomorrow, we won't go.
  • 别 点 那么 多 菜 。如果 吃 不 完 的话 太 浪费 了 。Bié diǎn nàme duō cài. Rúguǒ chī bù wán dehuà, jiù tài làngfèi le.Don't order so much. It will be a big waste of food if we can't finish all.
  • 如果 有 人 帮 他 的话 ,他 不 会 出事 了 。Rúguǒ yǒu rén bāng tā dehuà, tā jiù bù huì chūshì le.If someone had helped him, he would't have had this accident.
  • 如果 你们 不 来 的话 ,一定 会 后悔 的 。Rúguǒ nǐmen bù lái dehuà, yīdìng huì hòuhuǐ de .If you don't come, you'll definitely regret it.
  • 如果 他 不 同意 的话 ,你 怎么办 ?Rúguǒ tā bù tóngyì dehuà, nǐ zěnmebàn?What will you do if he disapproves?

Simple Pattern

Colloquially, it's also possible to drop the 如果 and just use the 的话 instead to mean "if." 的话 is optional.

Structure

⋯⋯ (的话) ,就 ⋯⋯

Examples

  • 不 想 去 的话 别 去 了 。Bù xiǎng qù dehuà jiù bié qù le.Don't go if you don't feel like going.
  • 好吃 的 的话 多 吃 点 。Hǎochī de dehuà, jiù duō chī diǎn.If you think it's tasty, eat some more.
  • 喜欢 拿走 吧 。Xǐhuan jiù názǒu ba.Take it if you like it.

It's even possible to use neither 的话 nor 就, and let the "if" be completely implied.

  • 有 事 给 我 打电话 。Yǒu shì gěi wǒ dǎ diànhuà.Give me a call if you need anything.
  • 有空 来 我 家 玩 。Yǒu kòng lái wǒ jiā wán.If you're not busy, come to my place so we can hang out.

Note that 如果 can be switched out for the various other terms for "if," including the common 要是 (yàoshi) and the formal 假如 (jiǎrú), among others.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books

Websties