3

Do the terms "provided that" and "on condition that" mean the same? Or is there any difference in usage?

The means will be available provided that the state will allocate its part of financing vs. The means will be available on condition that the state will allocate its part of financing.

7
  • 1
    Just wondering: are you both seagulls (original poster and editor)? If you've created two accounts by mistake, here's a link to help with merging them.
    – Lawrence
    May 22 '16 at 12:07
  • Lest there be any doubt, these days provided that is more likely to take the indicative, whereas on condition that is one of those few constructions in which the old present subjunctive can sometimes be heard—or more likely, read.
    – tchrist
    Nov 19 '16 at 5:53
  • Is "on condition that" standard? I'd've expected "on the condition that".
    – verbose
    Jan 18 '17 at 1:18
  • For me the difference is between something over which the beneficiary has control and something over which they have none. For example "I'll give you a lift on condition that you don't bring your smelly dog" is an example of something over which the beneficiary has control whereas "I'll give you a lift provided that my car will start" is an example of something over which they have none.
    – BoldBen
    Jan 18 '17 at 7:17
  • 1
    @Lawrence: thanx for the hint about merging!
    – seagull
    Mar 13 '17 at 15:39
1

provided that has a connotation of assuming that this holds true

on condition that has a connotation of only if this holds true

These Ngrams show that "provided that" is more popular than "on condition that", but when we add the qualifier of only, then "on condition that" becomes more popular.

provided that, on condition that

enter image description here

only provided that,only on condition that

enter image description here

The Corpus of Historical American English shows similar results, with only provided that showing up 7 times, and only on condition that showing up 112 times.

enter image description here

The Corpus of Contemporary American English shows 4 instances vs. 23 instances.


As an example:

You will be payed the bonus provided that the job is completed on time.

You will be payed the bonus on condition that the job is completed on time.

The former leaves open the possibility that some other method will allow the worker to get his bonus, but the latter suggests that ONLY can the worker receive his bonus if he completes his job on time.

3
  • 1
    -1 Please substantiate the final paragraph: to me there is no implication in either sentence of the type you suggest.
    – TrevorD
    Dec 19 '16 at 0:52
  • I'm not sure how the Ngrams show meaning or correctness, so it isn't clear how they actually support the answer. However, the explanation in the answer is correct. @TrevorD, is your issue that you believe the explanation to be wrong, or are you looking for better supporting evidence?
    – fixer1234
    Jun 17 '17 at 18:46
  • @fixer1234 As my comment said, I was referring only to the 'example' at the end. As a Brit, I do not interpret the two examples as having any difference between them. I read both as ambiguous on the possibility of other ways of receiving the bonus: I would assume (for both) that completing the job on time WILL give a bonus, but neither necessarily excludes other ways of getting the bonus, nor implies that there are other ways of getting it. If I wanted expressly to exclude other ways of getting the bonus, I would put "only" in both sentences.
    – TrevorD
    Jun 19 '17 at 9:42
0

The two conditionals are sometimes confused and used interchangeably, but remain somewhat different.

"Provided that" implies maintaining, introducing, or removing some tangible or quantifiable object or arrangement.

"On condition that" implies a set of instructions, intended to promote or prevent some event or action that might never occur.

The means will be available provided that the state will allocate its part of financing

Here 'provided' suggests that those means might never even exist if the state does nothing.

The means will be available on condition that the state will allocate its part of financing.

'Condition' here implies the means do exist, (they may not be available, but they exist), whatever the state may do.

5
  • How do you justify this distinction? I don't see why on condition that implies the existence of the means when provided that doesn't. (If your answer is based on dictionary definitions or on other resources, please link to them.)
    – Lawrence
    May 22 '16 at 10:44
  • @Lawrence, swap out "the state will..." with "it doesn't rain.", and note how "on condition that" no longer quite fits. On how that works, the OP didn't ask, so I neglected to provide for that condition.
    – agc
    May 22 '16 at 13:33
  • Maybe the answer should include what's the difference between the above two usages, and "The means will be available_if_ the state allocates its part of financing.", or "Y happens if X happens" and build up from that, i.e. "Y happens provided that X happens", vs. "Y happens on the condition that X happens".
    – agc
    May 22 '16 at 13:50
  • 1
    Even with the substitution, both versions still work. Also, despite reading the etymology links, it still doesn't explain your claim that 'condition' implies the means exist while 'provided' doesn't.
    – Lawrence
    May 22 '16 at 15:03
  • @Lawrence, Re substitution: unless at least one of the parties can control weather, "The means will be available on condition that it doesn't rain." is a malapropism; provided that is vaguely religious but not incorrect, on the contingency that is more neutral and most correct.
    – agc
    May 22 '16 at 16:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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