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I am having trouble understanding the meaning of sentences using unless. Here is an example:

Unless I hear from you by 6pm Friday I will send the letters to main office.

What does the above sentence mean? Are they expecting me to reply?

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  • Unless means if what follows does not happen. – bib Jul 15 '14 at 14:05
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"Unless A, B", meaning, if A doesn't happen, B will happen.

"Unless I hear from you (A), I will send the letters to the main office (B)." This can be rephrased as "if I don't hear from you (Not A), I will send the letters to the main office (B)"

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Unless = if ... not.

If you have trouble parsing sentences like that, use if instead of unless, and add not in the other clause.

Hence:

Unless I hear from you by 6pm Friday, I will send the letters to main office = If I hear from you by 6pm Friday, I will not send the letters to main office.

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Unless I hear from you

has similar (but not exactly the same) logical meaning as

If I don't hear from you

The meaning of your whole sentence

Unless I hear from you by 6pm Friday I will send the letters to main office.

is

I am planning to send the letters to main office. This will be my default behaviour. The only thing which may prevent me from doing this is hearing from you by 6pm.

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