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Is the use of that if discouraged or even wrong? This may be a weird question, but in Dutch the use of dat als, literally that if, is considered an error.

So, for example, is the following sentence wrong?

She told me that if a fire breaks out, I should immediately call the fire department.

Would the following sentence be better?

She told me that I should immediately call the fire department if a fire breaks out.

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    Both are completely fine, and commonly used. You can find many instances of "that if" by searching Google. – jtbandes Apr 27 '16 at 7:13
  • The difference between the two is that the first places more emphasis on "fire breaks out" while the second places more on "call the fire department". For this reason the first is probably preferred, as it puts events in the most logical and easily understood order. – Hot Licks Apr 27 '16 at 12:18
  • @HotLicks Actually, it's the other way round. It's the end of a sentence that usually carries the focus, not the beginning. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 27 '16 at 14:07
  • I prefer the second sentence. Sounds better to my American ears. The first sentence is perfectly fine in everyday speech. The second sentence would be better if you're writing a book IMHO. – Rayner Apr 27 '16 at 15:25
  • @Araucaria - So why didn't you write "The focus is usually carried by the end of the sentence"? – Hot Licks Apr 27 '16 at 18:12
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So, for example, is the following sentence wrong?

"She told me that if a fire breaks out, I should immediately call the fire department."

No, this is completely acceptable usage in American English and, at least to my ear, is preferable to the alternative you suggested, although I cannot tell you why, other than that it sounds more natural and immediate to me.

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Commas are needed here because "if a fire breaks out" is a parenthetical phrase. So you'd write: "She told me that, if a fire breaks out, I should..."

The commas are essential unless you want to rewrite the sentence to say, "She told me that I should immediately call the fire department if a fire breaks out."

What's she crux of what she's TELLING you? She's telling you to call the fire department.

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