In one of my posts (construct a conditional with "where"), a nice answerer gives this example to demonstrate when to use "when" to construct a conditional.

When she looks at me, I get embarrassed

First of all, is it a conditional? The sentence does not seem to fit any of the three patterns in the Cambridge Dictionary tutorial.

Secondly, I suppose that is a conditional and some kind of conditional where "when" is the best choice.

Consider other two possibilities

ex#2 If she looks at me, I get embarrassed

ex#3 Where she looks at me, I get embarrassed

ex#2 sounds unusual, #3 does even more.

That answerer describes this kind of situations this way

"when" could be used, but emphasizing the situation's time occurrence

I guess this is a reasonable explanation. Could someone please gives some other explanations easier to understand? Thanks in advance.

Note: There are 2 questions in here. Please don't ignore the first.


To answer your first question, it may help you to consider the concept of logic in mathematics. A hypothesis is followed by a conclusion (i.e., if, then). Applying this to your example shows that if a thing happens, then this is the result.

When she looks at me, I get embarrassed

This sentence is a conditional because the if/then construction depends on something being a condition of the initiating action.

As to the use of "when" in a conditional, this is an additional constraint to denote that the result happens relevant to this time occasion. "If" might also say the same thing, but "when" implies a potentially ongoing occurrence of what happens in this conditional situation.

  • 1
    "When" in this case is best translated as "At the moment in time when" – Borgh Mar 24 '20 at 14:34

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