What is the difference between these two sentences?

只要明天不下雨,我们就去爬山。

如果明天不下雨,我们就去爬山。

They seem very close in meaning.

  • 1
    如果(要是,倘若,。。。的话):if; 只要:iciba:so long as; provided; if only; so as;dict。cn:if only,so long as,once,so as,so far as,as long as 表示"有了这个条件才有后面的结果" (this condition has the following consequence)(more "emphatic" than just "if") – user6065 Mar 6 '16 at 10:40
up vote 7 down vote accepted

The difference is, 只要 is used for the only condition, while 如果 usually doesn't.

只要明天不下雨, 我们就去爬山。

[ As long as it doesn't rain tomorrow, ... ]

"It doesn't rain tomorrow" is the only one condition, the other things don't matter, e.g. wind blowing. So you could follow the sentence with 即使刮风我们也去。 (Even it's windy we still will go.)

如果明天不下雨, 我们就去爬山。

[ If it doesn't rain tomorrow, ... ]

"It doesn't rain tomorrow" isn't the only condition, that means if it's windy tomorrow, we might not go climbing too.

  • 1
    "the only condition" not to be misunderstood,cf."实用汉语近义虚词词典"只有(连;副)/只要(连)[相同]都是表示条件关系的连词,表示"有了这个条件才有后面的结果",但所表示条件与结果的关系不一样,不能互换。[不同]1。"只有"和"才"配合,组成"只有A,才(便)B":表示一定要有条件 A,才能产生结果 B,A 是唯一的条件,别的条件都不行:1只有吃这种药,他的病才会好。(必须吃这种药,其他药都不行)2妈妈说,只有到最困难的时候,我们才能用这笔钱。(只要✗)3这个菜不能生吃,只有煮熟了才能吃。(只要✗)4只有多听多说,才能学好外语。(只要✗)2。"只要"多和"就"配合,组成"只要 A,就(便)B":表示如果有了条件 A,就会产生结果B,A是必要的条件,但不是唯一的条件(!!!)不排除其它条件也能产生结果 B:1只要吃这种药,他的病就会好。(吃了这种药,病就会好,吃别的药可能也会好)2你只要打个电话,厂家就会派人上门维修。(只有✗)3只要你说得有道理,我们就会考虑你的意见。(只有✗)4这点小事,只要罗主任答应帮忙就可以解决。(只有✗)3。都可以用于后一分句,但"只有"表示唯一的条件,"只要"表示必要的条件,不能互换:1要想学好一门外语,只有下苦功夫。(只要✗)2要想治好他的眼睛,只有做手术。(只要✗) – user6065 Mar 7 '16 at 2:28
  • 1
    3我一定尽力帮你,只要我有能力。(只有✗)4我明天陪你去爬山,只要天气好的话。(只有✗) 4。"只有"还有副词的用法,做状语,表示在某种情况下不得不做某种选择,没有其它选择,相当于"只得,不得不";"只要"没有这个用法:1天这么黑,又找不到路,只有向警察求助。(只要✗)2没有别的办法,只有这么做了。(只要✗) – user6065 Mar 7 '16 at 2:30
  • regarding the meaning of 只 in 只要,"只要 A 就 B" means "only A is needed for consequence B" (= once A then B, B as soon as A)≠ "only if A then B" = "只有 A 才 B" – user6065 Mar 9 '16 at 5:40

Short answer:
如果 - if
只要 - as long as

  • Not true. "Only if" means 只有. – Stan Mar 16 '16 at 14:20
  • @Stan You're right. I've fixed it. Thx. – Enrico Brasil Mar 16 '16 at 15:36

When not used in precision condition, they are very close. But for those of very strict documents, like business contract, legal documents, and academic papers, they are different. 只要 means sufficient condition, while 如果 means a general one.

  • sufficient condition 充分条件 – user6065 Mar 17 '16 at 4:27

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