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We request that you read the terms and conditions carefully before signing.

__ Martin Hewings, Advanced Grammar in Use

The two words, terms and *condition*s, seem to be similar and it gives me the impression that synonyms are reiterated. What does terms mean in the context?

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2 Answers 2

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Terms are the binding conditions of the contract that both parties must adhere to. Conditions are criteria that must be met in order for the contract to be binding.

An example would be a signed lease contract with one term allowing you to lease an apartment for 12 months and another term that you pay $650 per month. A condition might be that you pass a credit check before the contract becomes binding.

Another example is when purchasing a house, in which the terms include the amount you pay and transfer of ownership to you. A typical condition would be that you qualify for financing.

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I realize that there may be regional differences in terminology, but I've alrways heard what you're describing as "conditions" called "contingencies". –  godel9 Jan 7 at 4:51

In layman's terms (no pun intended), "terms and conditions" are the binding provisions of a contract. Your sentence is equivalent to the following:

We ask that you read all the binding provisions of this contract carefully before you agree to them by signing.

There may be a more technical legal definition of "terms and conditions", but you'd have to consult a lawyer...

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