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Are “should” and “if” interchangeable at the beginning of a sentence?
A special use of “should”?

For sentences that begin with "If", it seems that "should" can replace "If." For example:

If you ever...

Should you ever...

However after googling, it seems that "should" should not be used to replace "if." If this is true, then why do people do it?

I also looked up "should" in the dictionary, and I didn't find anything that says it means the same thing as "if."

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marked as duplicate by JSBձոգչ, Cerberus, kiamlaluno, RegDwigнt May 23 '11 at 10:09

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1 Answer

'Should' is a formal version of 'if'.

From Cambridge Dictionaries Online:

formal, used when referring to a possible event in the future:

If anyone should ask for me, I'll be in the manager's office.

Should you (= If you) ever need anything, please don't hesitate to contact me.

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Then is the "should" in "if you should ever" redundant? –  language hacker May 22 '11 at 2:11
    
@language hacker: It depends on your definition of redundant. You could make the argument that should is a completely redundant word since it can also be replaced with "ought to" in other situations. But so what? –  Kosmonaut May 22 '11 at 2:32
    
Good grief, no. Should is not a formal version of if, any more than may is the month before June. Both should and may are modal auxiliary verbs and do not occur alone, nor as conjunctions. –  John Lawler Mar 10 '13 at 19:51
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