"When we were younger, I would have done anything to be with her."


"When we were younger, I would have done anything to be with her."


I saw this sentence and I was wondering if this is okay to use or when should be if or when can be used for conditionals? And then what is the difference between when and if in meaning?


Thank you so much as usual and have a good day.

asked Nov 13 '13 at 13:02 Hans Contributor

2 answers


'If' and 'when' have two different meanings. Using 'when' in this sentence describes something that did happen.

'If' would make this a conditional, really a hypothetical, scenario of the present time, and would require some changes.


If we were younger, I would do anything to be with her.

link answered Nov 13 '13 at 13:20 Lewis Neidhardt Grammarly Fellow

Thank you so much but in my book, it was interpreted as a conditional, so I am confused now. is it possible for it to be a conditional in any context?

HansNov 13 '13 at 13:24

"When" is a point in time. It is not conditional.

Patty TNov 13 '13 at 16:46

add comment

This sounds like a very good example of a syntactically incomplete conditional that doesn't need any further contextualisation for the basic message to be understood.  


When I was young, I would have done anything for her (if she had asked me to/if the need had arisen). 


Another example of a syntactically incomplete conditionals is when a parent says to a child:


I wouldn't do that ! (if I were you)


For anyone who is interested in a very thorough technical analysis of conditionals, have a look at:Conditionals: A Comprehensive Empirical Analysis

By Renaat Declerck, Susan Reed.


It's available on Google Books.  

link comment answered Nov 16 '13 at 15:04 Paul Henderson Contributor

Your answer

Write at least 20 characters

Have a question about English grammar, style or vocabulary use? Ask now to get help from Grammarly experts for FREE.