grammatical word: unless

unless

Today, we’re going to go over the word: unless. This particular word is very difficult for my students to use correctly even when they understand the meaning. That is why I’d like to write about it today.

Basically, “unless” means “if not” but that definition doesn’t help people to use it in conversation. So here are some examples:

I won’t go to the party unless you go with me. (The meaning is – I won’t go to the party if you don’t go with me.)

You won’t pass the test unless you study hard. (The meaning is – You won’t pass the test if you don’t study hard.)

We won’t get to work on time unless we leave right now. (The meaning is – We won’t get to work on time if we don’t leave now.)

I will get to the restaurant at 9:00 unless I get lost. (The meaning is – I will get to the restaurant at 9:00 if I don’t get lost.)

I won’t buy a new suit unless it’s not expensive. (The meaning is – I won’t buy a new suit if it’s expensive.)

I will go to the picnic unless it’s really far away. (The meaning is – I will go to the picnic if it’s not far away.)

I can’t operate this computer unless someone shows me how to do it. (The meaning is – I can’t operate this computer if no one shows me how to do it.)

I can buy a new car next year unless I lose my job. (The meaning is – I can buy a new car next year if I don’t lose my job.)

So as you can see from these examples, the second part of the sentence will be turned from positive into negative or from negative into positive by using the word “unless”. Also, you can see that usually the first part of these sentences begins with  either “I will” or “I won’t”, but “I can” and “I can’t” are also used sometimes.

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