In Mandarin, there are too many words to express "if". Here is a brief list of such words, as far as I recall:

  • 如果
  • 假如
  • 只要
  • 即便
  • 要说

Some words such as 尽管 have different meanings, such as "although". In these cases I understand the difference.

But if these words just mean "if" in English, is there any difference on the usage and context where some of these words are appropriate while others are not?

  • 即便 [even if; even though; granted that] --用来加强语气, 指即使; 纵使 即便你有理, 也不该发脾气啊! why not include 要是、假使、假若 ? 要说 usually means "as to, when it comes to" see e.g. jukuu, also note subordinate clause starts with 就, note English synonyms: provided, in case that, on condition that, supposing, suppose, granting, allowing
    – user6065
    Oct 14, 2017 at 12:14
  • grammar topic:偏正复句 subordinate complex sentences, 条件关系 conditional relation, 假设关系 suppositive relation, users suggest web search using e.g. 汉语语法+偏正复句 + 条件关系 (followed later by 假设关系)
    – user6065
    Oct 14, 2017 at 12:30
  • note previous Q (只要&如果) chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/17400/… in addition cf."外国人实用汉语法"(五)关联副词 "一。。。,就。。。" 表示在前边分句条件下,一定会产生后边分句的,例如:鱼一离开水,就会死。他一紧张,就脸红。气温一到零摄氏度,水就结冻。注意:关联副词"一"和"就"都必须放在主语后边,而不能用在主语前边。表示假设关系的关联词。(一) "要是(如果、假如,假使)。。。,就。。。" 的用法。1。连词 "要是"、"如果"、"假如"和"假使" 都表示假设,用在前边分句里,关联副词"就"用在后边分句里,说明有假设情况产生的结果。例如:要是你不愿意坐火车,就坐船。如果他不愿意参加,就不要叫他了。假如她写不完,就让她明天交。假使我们都会汉语。就能用汉语谈话了。大家要是同意,就这样决定吧。他如果有时间,我们就去他那儿。你假如寄航空信,下午就能收到。他们假使来调查这件事,我们就把这些情况就告诉他们。
    – user6065
    Oct 15, 2017 at 11:51
  • 2。 "要是(如果、假如、假使)" 可以单独用在前边分句里,后边分句不用"就"。例如:要是你不能去,我走。你如果不去,他还去吗?要表示在某种假设情况下会产生某种结果时,也可以只在后边句里用"就"。例如:你有意见,就提出来。你实在有困难,就别勉强了。3。注意:(1)用 "要是(如果、假如、假使)" 表示条件关系时,两个分句之间可以用连词 "那么" 。例如:如果你们都去,那么我也去。你们假如真想学画画儿,那么我可以教你们。"那么"一定不能在后一分句的主语后边。不能说"如果你们都去,我那么也去"等。(2) "要是(如果)" 多用于口语; "假如(假使)" 多用于书面语。(二) "即使(就是)。。。,也。。。" 的用法。1。连词"即使"和"就是"都用于前边表示假设的分句里,提出比较极端的情况:关联副词"也"用在后一分句里,说明结果。例如:即使你不愿意参加,也没关系。我们即使获得冠军,也要坚持练习。就是明天阴天,我也要去看他。我就是知道这个情况,也不会改变自己的看法。2。有时可以只在后一分句里用"也"。例如:你现在赶到机场,也晚了。她不装饰,也很好看。3。注意: "就是" 多用于口语, "即使"" 多用于书面语。
    – user6065
    Oct 15, 2017 at 11:59

2 Answers 2

  • 如果: simply means 'if'. For example, 如果我知道,我就会告诉你。 If I knew it, I would tell you.
  • 如: is short for 例如, meaning 'for example', 'like' or 'as'. It's used when you give some examples. For example (如): 手字可以和很多字组词,如:手机.
  • 假如: supposing or in case. For example: 假如生活欺骗了你, in case/supposing life deceived you.
  • 只要: only if or as long as. For example: 只要你做完工作就可以走了。You could go as long as you finish the work.
  • 即便: even if/even though. For example: 即便是老板,我也不怕。 Even though he is the boss, I wouldn't fear.
  • 要说: as for; want to say something; For example, 要说他这个人,没人知道。As for this person, no one knows. 我没有什么要说。 There is nothing I want to say.
  • Thanks. Isn't 如 also used as "if" (e.g. 如不同意,请告诉我。)? In this case how is this different from 如果?
    – Blaszard
    Oct 15, 2017 at 11:32
  • 如 unlike the others has many other meanings, bkrs 如 连 (如果) if: 如不能来,请打电话告诉我。 If you can't come, please ring me up. 如处理得当,问题不难解决。 The problem will not be difficult to solve, if properly handled. 如有困难,找我好了。 In case of difficulty, just call on me."汉语水平考试词典"如[义5]表示假设;如果(if):天~下雨,我们就不去了、~没收到,请赶快来个电话
    – user6065
    Oct 15, 2017 at 12:34
  • @Blaszard, in that case, 如 is short for 如果 ,如果不同意,请告诉我。 如 as a single character, it could be short for 如果, 例如, etc . I only list 例如 in my answer.
    – dan
    Oct 16, 2017 at 1:52
  • besides 假若 already mentioned in comment #1, add 倘若 provided that supposing that if, both of which are in Chinese IME
    – user6065
    Oct 16, 2017 at 15:11
  • I just found I forgot to add 即使, but is there any difference between 即使 and 即便?
    – Blaszard
    Oct 22, 2017 at 0:57

即便,即使,mean the clause following the words is not true at least to the speaker.

如果,如,要是,假如 is just same but with different style, where 要是usually appears in speech,如果 and 假如 usually appears in writting, 假如 and 如 is more likely to appears in writting, it is shorthand of 如果 or 假如。

只要 just expresses a sufficient condition without supposition where 如果,如,要是,假如 imply supposition.

要说 almost usually expresses true fact ,a case among several situations which may have happened.

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