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How to use "Unless"

Unless means the same as if...not. Like if, unless is followed by a present tense, a past
tense, or a past perfect tense (never by a conditional). Unless is used instead of if...not in
conditional sentences of all types. The order of the clauses doesn't matter with sentences
using unless.

Type 1 conditional: Unless + present tense

With If Equivalent with Unless

You will be sick if you don't stop eating. You'll be sick unless you stop eating.

I won't pay if you don't provide the goods immediately. I won't pay unless you provide the goods
immediately.

If you don't study dilligently, you'll never understand


trigonometry.

Type 2 conditional: Unless + past tense

With If Equivalent with Unless

If he wasn't very ill, he would be at work. Unless he was very ill, he would be at work.

I wouldn't eat that food if I wasn't really hungry. I wouldn't eat that food unless I was really hungry.

She would be here by now if she wasn't stuck in She would be here by now unless she was stuck in
traffic. traffic.

Type 3 conditional: Unless + past perfect

With If Equivalent with Unless

Our director would not have signed the contract Our director would not have signed the contract
if she hadn't had a lawyer present. unless she had had a lawyer present.

I wouldn't have phoned him if you hadn't I wouldn't have phoned him unless you'd
suggested it. suggested it.

They would have shot her if she hadn't given They would have shot her unless she'd given them
them the money. the money.

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