There are several questions here on ELL that refer to the idiom "if you have any questions", but none of them touches upon why is it "you have" and not "you would have", when that sentence refers to the future.

As an example:

Teacher: Please finish this task until next Sunday.
Student: No problem. If I (would) have any questions, I'll ask you by email.

Is the student in this example correctly using would?
If not, why is it? Assuming the student doesn't have questions now, and would only have questions once they start working on the task, shouldn't there be a would?


  • Much more natural, surely, would be to say, "If I do have any questions..."
    – Philip Roe
    Commented Jan 28, 2023 at 17:11

2 Answers 2


It's one of those peculiar grammatical aspects of the language we learners have to adjust our brains to. In English, present tenses (the simple in particular) are usually used to refer to the future:

  • in time clauses with when, after, before, by the time, until, as soon as:

    • When you see her, tell her ...
    • I should be finished by the time you get back.
  • in conditional clauses with if, unless, in case, provided:

    • Provided he is available...
    • I'll bring some food in case we don't find anywhere decent to eat.
  • what if and suppose clauses

    • What if the train is/was late?
    • Suppose we miss/missed the bus.
  • Thank you! you say that present tenses are usually used. Can future tenses also be used? if they can, would a native speaker usually choose the present tense in such cases?
    – HeyJude
    Commented May 2, 2021 at 15:52
  • 1
    @HeyJude, edited it to "are usually used" to stress that normally futures tenses are not used in such clauses Commented May 2, 2021 at 15:56
  • 1
    @HeyJude Have a look english.stackexchange.com/questions/301323/…, but it's rather an old-fashioned "abnormality" Commented May 2, 2021 at 15:58
  • 1
    @HeyJude Another slightly related topic english.stackexchange.com/questions/451800/… touches on the correctness of "If you would" Commented May 2, 2021 at 16:01
  • I would not say that present tenses (the simple in particular) are usually used to refer to the future, They can be used, but that is not how they are normally used. If a person says I am here, that doesn't mean I will be here.
    – apaderno
    Commented May 6, 2021 at 13:50

There actually is a similar construction in one translation (the New International Version) of Isaiah 21:12. But it’s that way for complicated reasons.

Morning is coming, but also the night.
If you would ask, then ask;
         and come back yet again.

In modern English, “If you would” reads to me as a slightly-quaint way of expressing, “If you want to,” and not the future tense. In this particular instance, “If you would ask” is a translation of the Hebrew אִם־תִּבְעָי֥וּן, which is in the imperfect rather than the future tense, so the translators probably chose a construction that was not the usual future tense.

Anyway, “If you would ask,” is not the normal way to say it, and I wouldn’t recommend you imitate that example. But if you like the sound of it, you might quote the literary passage!

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