Do you think if you could check this essay for me?

Is if legitimate in that place, or it is a dish best served without if?

  • 3
    Leave out the if. It would be more appropriate in a construct like this: If you would check this essay for me, I would appreciate it.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 2:26
  • @J.R.: Native speakers seem pretty easily distinguish when would is used as a modal verb and when as an auxilliary.
    – mosceo
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 2:37
  • 2
    I thought this question was about the word if. I'm telling you, it should be left out of the sentence you inquired about.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 2:39
  • @J.R.: About if, you're right. I just made a conversational note.
    – mosceo
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 2:54
  • In a different sentence if would be appropriate, for example: I was wondering if you could check this essay for me? However, as J.R. pointed out, in your original sentence if should not be used.
    – Walter
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 8:52

2 Answers 2


A more formal construction than just leaving out the if is "Do you think that you could check this essay for me?" If you leave "that" out, it is implied, hence the informal flavor. The reason for "do you think that" and "I was wondering if" (more formal would be "I was wondering whether") has to do with the different subjects. In the first case, you are asking another person what he thinks. The presumption is that he knows what he thinks. In the second case, you are expressing your awareness of two possibilities, that he can't help or that he can, and you would like to know if (whether) the desired possibility is the correct one.


One rule of thumb in assessing grammar is if you find yourself struggling over a particular word, that word usually isn't the problem. It's the broader sentence. On that basis, the issue at hand could be overcome with a simpler construct. As a result, I'd respectfully offer the following rewrite:

"Could you check this essay for me?"

This construct eliminates all the subjective reinterpretation about who is thinking what, or assumptions about what someone does or doesn't know.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .