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Jen’s English Tip’s – How to use word UNLESS

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Using the Word Unless

Unless is a conjunction which we use in conditional phrases. In written English, the clause that follows unless is the subordinate clause (SC) meaning that it needs a main clause (MC) to make a complete sentence.It is similar to how we use if in conditional phrases.

When unless comes before a main clause we use a comma:

Unless it rains, we’ll go for a picnic tomorrow.

When the main clause comes first, no comma is required:

They won’t come unless you invite them.
Unless is like if in that we don’t not use will/would after it. We only use the present simple tense.
Unless I hear from you, I’ll see you at 5pm.


Unless and if not

Ok, so unless is similar to “if…..not” and together they mean “except if”. Note: We refer to real conditional situations and NOT impossible situations.

If you don’t study, you will fail your exam./ Unless you study, you will fail.

We could eat at Frankie and Benny’s if they’re not closed on a Monday/ We could eat at Frankie and Benny’s unless they are closed on a Monday.

I’ll make dinner if nobody wants to/ I’ll make dinner unless someone else wants to.

If you don’t stop smoking, you will feel bad/ Unless you stop smoking, you will feel bad

Note that the sentence after unless is always a positive sentence. You cannot have a negative sentence after unless because that would make the sentence a double negative and senseless.

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