What's the exact difference between "if possible" and "if ever possible"?

For example:

If ever possible for you, please buy it.

If possible, please buy it.

Which one is more appropriate? Are there polite?

  • Where did you see "if ever possible" in a sentence — was it by a native speaker? It sounds quite unusual to my ear (I'd be more likely to say "If at all possible", or at least "if it's ever possible"), it would be great to see the context. Also, it would be useful in your question to expand on what particularly you're having difficulty with. It seems like a textbook usage of the word 'ever' meaning "at any time". Aug 17, 2021 at 14:31
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    @anotherdave I agree that "if ever possible" is an odd construction, but I think the oddity arises merely because the clause contains an ellipsis in a variation of a routine clause. I do not see anything odd in "If it is ever possible." Aug 17, 2021 at 14:55
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    if ever possible also comes up a lot in the phrasing X is rarely if ever possible, in which case if ever should really be thought of as being attached to rarely, not possible.
    – stangdon
    Aug 17, 2021 at 15:12

1 Answer 1


They are both polite because of the "please."

They are both grammatical, but the first is perhaps not completely natural although the second is. I do not know that there are hard and fast rules about when ellipsis (omitting words that will be understood) is acceptable. The ellipsis in the first strikes me as being unlikely but not impossible for a native speaker to utter.

They have slightly different meanings.

The first literally means

If, at any time in the future, no matter how far removed from today, it is possible to buy X, please do so.

It may not be intended literally; it may be intended to mean

If, for a long time to come, it is possible to buy X, please do so.

Whether it means for the duration of my life or for the next five years or for the next year depends on context, but certainly longer than the normal course of dealing.

The second does not specify a duration. It will probably be interpreted to mean

If it is possible to buy X within some commercially reasonable period of time, please do so.

In other words, both sentences are vague because they give no concrete indication of what the intended duration of the request may be.

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