He would will recover from his ailment if he stops consuming/drinking alcohol.

  • 2
    "He will recover if he stops" or "He would recover if he stopped" or "He would recover if he were to stop".
    – Jim
    Jun 2, 2015 at 9:40
  • @Jim Can would never be used for future tense?
    – Phoenix
    Jun 2, 2015 at 9:46
  • "would" is never used next to "will". Use "will" for future, "would" for subjunctive. See Jim's examples—They are three ways to say essentially the same thing; all of them are common and grammatically correct. Jun 3, 2015 at 10:34

5 Answers 5


You can use either consuming or drinking here, without any difference in meaning. However, the use of the verb "consume" is formal.


It's a matter of which register you use. Consuming alcohol is used for more impersonal registers.

What's a register, you ask?

Don't mind if I do.

English has more than just 2 registers (formal/informal). We have (at least) 5 academically recognized registers.

Source: (wikipedia)


Also referred to as static register. Printed unchanging language, such as Biblical quotations, often contains archaisms. Examples are the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America and other "static" vocalizations that are recited in a ritualistic monotone. The wording is exactly the same every time it is spoken.


One-way participation; no interruption; technical vocabulary or exact definitions are important; includes presentations or introductions between strangers.


Two-way participation; background information is provided – prior knowledge is not assumed. "Back-channel behavior" such as "uh huh", "I see", etc. is common. Interruptions are allowed. Examples include teacher/student, doctor/patient, expert/apprentice, etc.


In-group friends and acquaintances; no background information provided; ellipsis and slang common; interruptions common. This is common among friends in a social setting.


Non-public; intonation more important than wording or grammar; private vocabulary. Also includes non-verbal messages. This is most common among family members and close friends.


The verb drink is very often used to refer specifically to the sipping and swallowing of alcoholic beverages.

If a bartender asks, "Do you drink?" she probably means "Do you drink alcohol?"

To consume (a cake) is to eat it, the idea being that you ate the whole thing.

As stated by @Khan,"consume is formal".


He will recover from his ailment if he stops drinking alcohol.

           Moderate drinking can be healthy—but not for everyone

I think there's rarely a difference in meaning, since almost all alcohol is consumed by drinking it. As a result, the main reason why you would see one, instead of another, is likely to be due to formality.

However, technically, there are other ways of consuming alcohol - e.g. eating chocolates with liqueurs in them. Also, it's not quite true that cooking completely removes all alcohol from food, so if you have, say, a wine-based sauce, or a Christmas pudding soaked in brandy, you're consuming some alcohol.

So "consume" could also be used more generically to mean 'any intake of alcohol by any means'.


"Consume alcohol" is formal, and it includes any method of ingesting alcohol that gets alcohol into your bloodstream (drinking, eating, or that other way we won't talk about)

"Drinking" is casual register; most people would NOT say that they "consume alcohol", and they don't usually say they "drink alcohol", they are more likely to say they drink beer, or wine, or whiskey, or tequila, etc. Drinking any alcoholic beverage is generally referred to simply as "drinking". (So If someone asks "Do you drink?" or "Have you been drinking?" they're not talking about drinking water, milk, or Coke!)

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