What is the difference between:

1) If my car should break down, please, call the mechanic.

2) If my car breaks down, please, call the mechanic.

3) Should my car break down, please, call the police

I read that the first variant is informal whilst the third one is formal. But what is the second then?

1 Answer 1


#2 is the informal, conversational version.

#1 and #3 have no difference in meaning and are both more formal than #2 due to the use of "should".

See also: Should versus If.

  • The third one is semi-archaic, and should be used with caution, as it may be harder to understand. May 15, 2019 at 19:54
  • While first one is fully archaic? May 16, 2019 at 1:53
  • I wouldn't say that either #1 or #3 are archaic or hard to understand--only that they are formal. Their usage may be "archaic" in the sense that 'twas once more popular than 'tis currently, but they are still valid and not totally uncommon.
    – Jake Reece
    May 16, 2019 at 10:40
  • Okay if the 2 is informal, how to say it formal? It will be "If my car will break down, please, call the mechanic" or what? May 19, 2019 at 5:50

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