Consider the following two sentences:

  1. If you do not study, you will fail the exam.

  2. If you do not study, then you will fail the exam.

I know that the first sentence is preferred over the second one. The word "then" is a redundant word in the second sentence. But my question is: does that make the second sentence grammatically incorrect?

  • 2
    There is nothing 'redundant' about using 'then' after 'if', and I do not agree that it is 'preferred' to omit it. May 5 at 20:21
  • @MichaelHarvey If the first statement is correct, then it makes 'then' a redundant word. A sentence with no redundancy should always be preferred. It is like removing a 'comma' in a sentence if it is not needed. May 5 at 20:24
  • 1
    Hello @InuyashaYagami ! In English, you are incorrect, and MichaelHarvey is correct. "A sentence with no redundancy should always be preferred" is totally lincorrect. (Just BTW, pls note: that sentence includes redundant words.) "It is like removing a 'comma' in a sentence if it is not needed." is also totally incorrect. Churchill for example wrote notably with less commas than normal humans, but indeed a style with a surplus of commas is no no way worse, incorrect or inpreferable.
    – Fattie
    May 5 at 20:41
  • 1
    I am very afraid to tell you, politely, that this: Therefore, introducing unnecessary commas in a sentence will make it difficult to read. It will also kill the flow of a sentence, therefore making it less beautiful of a sentence is wholly wrong. (As a mere anecdote, when you write professionally for voice over talent, you riddle with commas. Commas, and similarly line breaks in poetry, and all punctuation, very much add to the beauty and rhythm. As I say, if you do enjoy writing with the "guts of no commas", I hop you enjoy Winston Churchill, who's the master of that. Enjoy!
    – Fattie
    May 5 at 20:54
  • 1
    AHHHHHH. I now see what you mean, "academic papers". ... To be honest I would have to think about that. Really .. I don't know. I would ask a new and interesting question about that, explaining that you refer to academic papers. My initial thought: more punctuation adds more clarity. Best of all are extremely short sentences. But, I cannot comment on this field. Best @InuyashaYagami !!!
    – Fattie
    May 5 at 21:07

No, both forms are grammatically correct.

2 might be used to add emphasis to the condition, for example,
A I'm afraid I will fail the exam!
B Well, if you don't study, then you will fail the exam, but if you study, you'll pass.

The case is similar to your use of "do not". Most speakers will say "don't", but both forms are grammatically correct.


The second one says very strongly that you need to study. A is pessimistic and comes up with all kinds of reason why he might fail the exam. He is also lazy and doesn’t like to study. So B says “If you do not study, then you will fail”. Meaning “all your excuses are nonsense, but your laziness may very well make you fail.”

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