I'm currently researching into Conditional Sentences, and from the sources I've seen so far (which range from ELL to its ELU, Wordreference,...), the "will" can be used in the if-clause, as in, for instance:

If the bike will start, I will take the helmets just in case.

However common it may be.

The bigger question though is this:

If the bike will start, I will get the helmets just in case

Then, should I rewrite this sentence, can it be like this?

If the bike wouldn't start, I wouldn't get the helmets.

I doubt whether the latter one is semantically similar to the one prior. Can anyone help me with this?

Thanks a lot!

PS: Also, may anyone consider this rewriting too?

Because aspirins won't cure it so I have to try other alternatives.

==> If aspirins will cure it, I don't have to try other alternatives.

  • I think you're trying to ask a good question about conditionals, but you're having trouble coming up with a good example sentence. Your current sentences seem awkward. I think most natives would just say something like: I will get the helmets, just in case the bike starts, or: If the bike starts, I will get the helmets.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 15:45
  • Well, I hear people saying "My bike won't start ..." May that count? Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 15:47
  • There is nothing wrong with, "My bike won't start." My bike won't start; I'll need to call my mechanic. My bike won't start; I wonder if I'm out of gas. My bike won't start; I guess we won't need these helmets. Those are all fine.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


Situation of will/won't:

This story occurs in the present tense and is used to illustrate the use of will/won't:

John and Mike are discussing the fact John's bike (motorbike) has some problems. They are not at the bike's location. They are at work, discussing a week-end bike trip to the mountains. John tells Mike that he is having problems with his bike's starter/starting.

John: I'm worried about the trip. My bike is not working properly. There's something wrong with the starter. I need to have it checked. It's just won't start. I tried to start it this morning several times. I don't think the battery is the problem.

Mike: Ah, right. I see. Well, take it to that mechanic friend of yours. Maybe he can fix it in time for the trip. If it will start after that, we can go on our trip.

[That "will start" could have been expressed by: If it starts after that. There really is not grammatical justification for using "will start" but it does occur in these situations in contrast to phrases like "won't start".

1) "will" is used to express beliefs about something in the present or future; won't also. "will" in that sense is predictive. enter link description here

"He won't come no matter how many times I invite him." =

  • I believe or predict he will not come no matter how many invitations he receives.

"The bike won't start regardless of what you say." =

  • I believe the bike won't start regardless of what you say.

2) the "special use" of will after IF, is really context bound. It is used to emphasize a situation that is predictable/unpredictable. Many people call this a use of a pseudo-conditional.

In any event, it appears in the conversation above in response to a won't. It does not appear out of the blue. It means: there is no doubt about the information in the if clause, in fact.

If you use would/wouldn't here, then you would be telling that same story to someone in the past about this "will/won't" situation.

Like this:
John said that he needed to have it checked. It just wouldn't start. And Mike answered by saying that if it would start after that, they could go on their trip.

Summary: If + will here is not a conditional. It is a pseudo-conditional, it is context bound (that is, it depends on a previous use of "won't" used predictively) and the usage doesn't fall within the scope of what is known as Zero, 1st, 2nd conditionals or mixed conditionals. And If + will in this context-bound usage could have been stated as: "If it starts after that", which is more acceptable to many people's view of grammar.

A true conditional is this:

If the bike starts, I will go to the picnic.
OR If the bike started, I would go to the picnic.

This one: If the bike wouldn't start, I wouldn't get the helmets.

is simply not grammatical.

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