If he hadn't/Had he not cheated,he wouldn't have won the first prize.

I have always wondered if there is any difference between the two ways of using the conditional.i searched Google but unable to find the topic. Can you point out any nuance in above two ways, if any?

Don't be bound to only above given example, it's more of a general question,feel free to give other examples as well.


There is no difference in meaning between the two forms.

The "If he hadn't.." form is a lot more likely to be used in spoken English and in informal written English. It is considered inappropriate to use short forms (hadn't, wouldn't) in formal written English, and this may be one of the reasons the other form is used in formal written English.

According to this NGram, up until 1970, "Had he not" dominated in written English, but written English has become progressively less formal over the years, and "Had he not" is now used rarely apart from in literary, period and formal writing.

Whether Clifford Beers would have made a name for himself had he not become mentally ill in 1900, or, given that, had he afterwards buried his psychiatric history and pursued his youthful goal of business success, is hard to say. Clifford W. Beers: Advocate for the Insane

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.