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Suppose, Supposing, and What If

07/09/16 The Use of ‘Suppose’, ‘Supposing’, and ‘What If’


Suppose, supposing and what if can all be used to introduce suggestions. Supposing is less common in American English.
The verb can be present or past; a past form makes the suggestion sound less definite.

“I don’t have a table cloth.” “Suppose we use a sheet.”
What if we invite your mother next weekend and go away the week after?
“Daddy, can I watch TV?” “Supposing you did your homework first?”
What if I came tomorrow instead of this afternoon?
These expressions can also be used to talk about fears.
“Let’s go swimming.” “Suppose there are sharks?”
“I’m going to climb up there.” “No! What if you slipped?”

In sentences about the past, past perfect tenses are used to talk about situations that did not occur.

That was very clever, but what if you had slipped?

In our next e-Lesson, we’ll analyze the expression “be supposed to”.

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