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first of all, my native language is Spanish.


This is an example:

If some result is incorrect, try contact with the page, else contact with IRC

My question is if else is incorrect here? Is otherwise better?

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  • Neither else nor otherwise sounds correct unless you mean if the result is incorrect, contact me using that page. If the result is correct, contact me using IRC. If you mean you can contact either using that page or using IRC, you can use either either...or or just or. Another problem is that ... try contact ... expression is not correct. Either try to contact or try contacting will be fine. Sep 13, 2016 at 5:09
  • Prayer becomes too long, I want a word like "else" or "otherwise", Is not posible these words? Sep 13, 2016 at 5:13
  • @Man_From_India I think that both else and otherwise are correct, Sep 13, 2016 at 5:14
  • @SamHarrington, So this is correct?: "If some result is incorrect, try contact to me, else contact with IRC" Sep 13, 2016 at 5:17
  • 1
    @SamHarrington I think both are possible, but meaning will change. Sep 13, 2016 at 5:20

2 Answers 2

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My question is if else is incorrect here? Is otherwise better?

In your original, you potentially have two things that either else or otherwise could switch on. The first is the if condition (i.e. some result is incorrect), and the second is the implicit condition that contacting (someone) via the page fails. Since it doesn't seem to make sense to have separate channels for communicating success and failure, the sentence parses with else switching on the implicit condition.

On the other hand, if ... else ... is a strong idiom in English, so it biases the reader to switch on the if condition.

Using otherwise in place of else doesn't help here. Doing so with your original sentence tends to break the sentence into two independent clauses:

  • If the result is incorrect, try to contact the developer via the appropriate form on the page. Otherwise, contact the developer using IRC.

This seems to say that if the result is correct, the reader should contact the developer using IRC.

If I've understood your intent correctly, you're providing two means of contact in case one means fails. In that case, try the following:

  • If the result is incorrect, please contact the developer using the details on the page or via IRC.

This lumps the alternatives together, avoiding the 'if/else switching' problem altogether.

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Your original sentence is hard to evaluate because it reads awkwardly. Also, there is no context to tell what you mean be "page" and "IRC".

I'll construct a similar example:

If they have no black raspberry ice cream, try buying cherry vanilla. Otherwise, just get some strawberry.

I wouldn't use else in place of otherwise in this context. It wouldn't be grammatically wrong, but I think otherwise sounds a lot more natural.

By the way, I agree with Lawrence's point: the sentence might sound even better if you put the two "alternatives" together:

If they have no black raspberry ice cream, try buying some cherry vanilla or some strawberry.

That reads a little nicer; however, it's also less specific. It fails to clearly convey how cherry vanilla is a clear second choice, with strawberry as the third choice.

In formal writing, you could use the expression failing that:

If they have no black raspberry ice cream, try buying some cherry vanilla. Failing that, buy strawberry.

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