Difference between unless and even if

“Unless and even if” are subordinating conjunctions mainly used to express restrictive conditions. The hidden meaning of “unless” is “if…not”, whereas, “even if” implies “in spite of, or despite that”. Even though both conjunctions are used to express conditions, theirs meanings seem to contradictory to each other. Here, I’m going to clarify the difference between unless and even if to enable proper use.

“Unless = If…not = restrictive conditions”

“Unless + restrictive clause + comma + main clause”.

“Main clause + unless + restrictive clause”.

As I stated earlier that “unless” subordinating conjunctions is mainly used to express the restrictive conditions — if…not. It is commonly used in the present and past tense, but future tense is not used to introduce “unless” clause. Let’s see some simple examples of unless.

•The temperature of our planet will rise continuously unless we control the fossil fuel consumption.

(If we don’t control the use of fossil fuel consumption, the temperature of our planet will rise continuously)

In the main clause, future tense is used for present sense. It is important to note that in the unless clause, it is advised to avoid future tense.

•She would not be part of our team unless she fulfilled all requirements.(would is preferred in the past tense)

(If she didn’t fulfill all requirements, she wouldn’t be part of our team)

•We would not have started operation unless you had accepted our terms. (Higher level restrictive conditions by perfect past tense)

(If you hadn’t accepted our terms, we would not have started operation)

“In short, if you are not going to fulfill one condition, other will not happen any more as a result”.

Use of “Even if”

“Even if” is also used to describe  restrictive condition but in the hypothetical manner. It is quite contradictory in meaning compare to “unless”. The hidden meaning of even if is “in spite of, or despite that”.

In order words, if you fulfill first condition, other will not happen as a result.

•Even if + conditional clause + comma + main clause.

•Main clause +even if +  conditional clause.

Examples of even if:-

•Even if you show your willingness, you will not be the part of team.

•He is a big liar. Nobody trusts him even if he tells universal truth.

•I wouldn’t support him even if I were rich.

•Harry should have taken part in the tournament even if he had little chance to become champion.

All these examples are about speculative imagination in the restrictive conditions. By reading both unless and even if, you might be able to understand clearly the basic difference between unless and even if…

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