English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Are all of these grammatically correct and equivalent?

Even if I fail

Even should I fail

Even if I should fail

What are the differences, if any? Could the last example be misinterpreted to mean that failing is a desirable outcome?

share|improve this question

All three are grammatically correct, and have the same meaning. However, they are not grammatically equivalent: the first is set in the future real (or "factual") conditional tense, while the second and third are set in the future unreal (or "counterfactual") conditional.

Conditional tutorial - Future conditionals

Wikipedia on conditional sentences

share|improve this answer

All of them are grammatically correct and mean the same thing. The last example means "even if I did actually fail"

share|improve this answer
All of them are grammatically correct, and essentially equivalent. The ones with should are rather more old-fashioned, though, and would be less natural today unless you wand to sound deliberately old-fashioned. – PLL May 21 '11 at 13:09

Every time you look at different phrases I find ngrams really useful

enter image description here

(unfortunately you can't really choose which corpus is searched, but you can see in which books and publications the results were found).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.