STUART: I think you have some great ideas but where you lack is in details and structure—both areas which I excel at. Last night I came up with some terms and conditions, and should you feel like you can abide by those, I'd be happy to come back to work with you but not for you. I want to be VP of Project Development. I want more responsibility and I want to be in the room when decisions are made. Give it a look over and give me a call tomorrow, and let me know what we can do.

I can't understand the meaning of "should" in the above context. Does it mean "if"?

  • Short answer: yes. Long answer: here (possibly more than you want to know).
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 12:24
  • I find only a failed attempt to feign nuance in that passage in this (clumsy) phrase: "should you feel like you can abide by those". Considering the bluntness of the repeated "I want...I want...I want" and the imperatives "Give it a look over" and "Give me a call", it means "if" with a generous dash of "unless".
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 13:28

2 Answers 2


should is the conditional form of the auxiliary (modal) shall, and is more polite form of saying "if you [shall] feel like you can abide..."

It is very similar to the difference between (future)

"Will you join us for dinner?

and, the more polite (conditional)

"Would you join us for dinner?"

The conditional is a softer, more polite (and nebulous) way of asking a question.

There are some other examples of the use of should on Word Reference:Should you have any question, including a good explanation of why the if disappears, due to **auxiliary subject inversion*:

It's just another way of expressing the second (or third) conditional by the means of auxiliary-subject inversion. More examples If I were to find a treasure I'd buy a castle. --> Were I to find a treasure, .....

If he hadn't been there, we would have lost the game ---> Had he not been there, we.....

In both sentences we have inverted the subject and the auxiliary (or modal). Plus we no longer need the if.

It's both more idiomatic (in the sense that this wording is specific to English) and slightly more formal.

I hope that helps.

Good Luck.


The difference if very subtle, but using "if" in this context would sound a little bit snappy and rude. The tone sounds like "if you feel like you can do what I say" rather than "if you're happy with my suggestions". By using the word "should" instead, the speaker is focusing on what he would do with the listener's cooperation in a hypothetical sort of way.

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