I can see lots of sentences like "You touch my bag again, I kill you." I guess this is also a conditional, even though I don't see any 'if' clauses. (Am I right?)

In this case, can I say "I will kill you." (with the future tense)? Or only with the present tense? Is there any rule here?

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    You're right in both cases: "If" is implied, and this is a special use of the present to mean the future. For another sentence: "Blink and you miss it." This could expand either to "If you blink you will miss it," or possibly "If you were to blink you would miss it." Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 14:57
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    @AndyBonner is right. I would add that the particular example you chose may be intended to suggested gangster speech - perhaps a Mafia don warning a surprised fellow passenger in a train. Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 15:20
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    There are no "rules" dictating whether you should or shouldn't explicitly include if, or whether the threatened / predicted second action should be expressed using Present Tense or explicit Future. But as a rule, I suggest the "clipped" syntax that results from not explicitly following "standard" English syntax (i.e. - including explicit if AND explicit Future) adds a certain element of different = dangerous. Also, "short-and-to-the-point" threats are usually more "menacing" than threats that take forever to communicate. Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 18:18
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    "I kill you" is a misuse of the simple present. It basically is always wrong, unless you're talking about computer games where you usually win.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 16:24
  • "I kill you" is a parody of non-native English speakers. it's a catchphrase of Jeff Dunham's Middle-eastern terrorist puppet Achmed (which is often accused of racism).
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


You are correct; the sentence implies an "if" and is a conditional statement. However, be careful to distinguish between dialog (which can accurately capture how people speak) and exposition. Grammar rules aren't held fast to in dialog, but they are (generally) elsewhere.

However, you cannot say, "I will kill you," because that removes the condition from the statement completely. The original sentences states that the man (assumed) will kill the person if (implied) that person touches his bag.

Also, will means that the action is sure; only the time is uncertain. If the speaker said your second sentence, the time between saying it and killing the person could be seconds or days, but it leaves no doubt that the speaker will do his utmost to kill the other person.

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