What is the difference in the meaning of following sentences (I'm asking for detailed anlaysis of these sentences)

  1. If it rains, I will stay at home.

  2. If it should rain, I will stay at home.

  3. If it should happen to rain, I will stay at home

  4. If it happens to rain, I will stay at home.

    Can I say 'there is no difference in the meaning among 2 ,3 and 4 sentences ? There is no difference in the meaning and usage among 'should', 'happen to' or should happen to' together. Do they all mean 'by chance' ?

Again , i would like to know if the following sentences are grammatically correct or not:

1.If she should happen to read the newspaper, she would see your article.

2.If they should agree to come ,we would be delighted.

Source :perfect English grammar.com in Advanced conditionals Explained (pdf )

  • #4 should be "If it happens to rain". May 17, 2016 at 4:58
  • Question has been Edited. Unlike previous, This question is asking for detail analysis of question also differences between sentences with meaning
    – yubraj
    May 17, 2016 at 9:30
  • 1
    Why are we voting to close this as a duplicate of a question that has already been closed as a duplicate of this one? Won't that cause a tear in the space-time continuum?
    – ColleenV
    May 17, 2016 at 13:05
  • @Rathony I cleaned it up a little bit and voted to re-open. I think one of these duplicates should be open to get more answers and this one has a higher voted answer (and more detail in the question now that it has been edited) than the other.
    – ColleenV
    May 17, 2016 at 14:11
  • Thank you very much, but about what previous question ?
    – yubraj
    May 17, 2016 at 14:20

1 Answer 1


All the sentences are real conditionals.

If it rains ( which is possible, in the future ), I will stay at home.

The following sentences are formal. Should is used in an if-clause to talk about something which is possible but not very likely.

If it should rain, I will stay at home.

Should can also be used in inversion, it adds emphasis.

Should it rain, I will stay at home.

Happen to means by chance and is used in the same situation.

If it happens to (note, there should be-s) rain (which is unlikely ), I will stay at home.

You can use both should and happen to

If it should happen to rain (, I will stay at home.

. *Should, happen to and should happen to * are synonymous constructions and can be used interchangeably in the if-clause with a real conditional. Happen to is colloquial. Your additional sentences are grammatical and express unreal situations. The meaning of should is the same as stated above.

  • Is 'Should' here used just like 'would ' is used in the conditional sentence ? For example: if it would rain ? Or why ? There is also' happen to ' used together with 'should', why ?
    – yubraj
    May 17, 2016 at 6:47
  • I'm confused here with different sentences structure, sometime should, should happen to , sometime together, various uses
    – yubraj
    May 17, 2016 at 6:49
  • Would is normally used in the main clause for second(unreal condition referring to present or future ) It expresses improbable, imaginary or untrue situations. There are situations, when would is used in the if-clause, such as colloquial usage,polite requests but that is another question.
    – V.V.
    May 17, 2016 at 8:11
  • What is the difference between 1. if it rains, i'll stay at home 2. If it should rain, i'll stay at home.
    – yubraj
    May 17, 2016 at 8:32
  • Again , do you mean ' should' and 'should happen to' are same?
    – yubraj
    May 17, 2016 at 8:34

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