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What is the proper way to use if you will? Here is an example.

It's like riding a car, if you will.

Is the punctuation right?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes, that punctuation is correct.

If you will can be considered short for "if you will allow this analogy", which is the usage in your car example.

I once rode on the back of a camel. It's like riding a car, if you will permit the analogy.

As Elendil says it can also mean "if you want to".

Imagine, if you like, a typical silversmith's shop.

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Haven't seen the longer version if you will allow this analogy used - is it common in writing or speech? –  JoseK Jan 19 '11 at 10:16
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That longer phrase is not standard, I just wrote that to explain the meaning of if you will. But if you will is certainly used in this context. –  Joe Kearney Jan 19 '11 at 10:18
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The punctuation is correct in your example but the usage is perhaps a little off.

'If you will' is short for 'if you will it', or 'if you want to'.

Therefore FX_'s example is saying:

'Imagine, if you want to, a typical silversmith's shop.

It can also be read as asking the reader to make a concession to what you are saying:

'The man was Australian, from 'Down Under', if you will.

Here you are 'asking' the reader to accept the use of 'Down Under'.

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@Elendil "if you want to" is not the only interpretation of this. The car example does make sense, but doesn't have quite the meaning you indicate. –  Joe Kearney Jan 19 '11 at 9:16
    
I stand corrected, and edit to that effect. :) –  user3444 Jan 19 '11 at 9:21
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Yes, that seems good to me. The New Oxford American Dictionary has this example: “imagine, if you will, a typical silversmith's shop”.

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Isn't that equivalent to "Imagine, please..."? That's a common usage, but not OP's example. –  TimLymington Nov 30 '11 at 21:33
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