Consider the following:

Even if I...

Even should I...

These all mean the same thing, right? What about

Even if I should...

Does that have the same meaning?

"If you should ever," is grammatically correct, so shouldn't, "Even if I should" also be grammatically correct?

3 Answers 3


Let's break these apart.

  1. Even if I do X, Y will happen.
  2. Even should I do X, Y will happen.
  3. Even if I should do X, Y will happen.

Even is being used as an adverb in all three cases, taking the second meaning in the Wiktionary listing:

"Implying an extreme example in the case mentioned, as compared to the implied reality."

So it is saying that "X" is one of the best options I have.

Numbers 2 and 3 are the same construction, where should is being used as an auxiliary verb to form the future subjunctive. This indicates that X is something I am only hypothetically interested in doing, just for the sake of argument. The indicative mood of number 1, by contrast, suggests that X is something I am actually interested in doing. However, in a conditional clause like this one, the difference between actual and hypothetical is quite small.

Edit: number 3 could possibly use a different meaning of should, that of obligation. In this case X is something I really ought to do, but instead of doing that I will do Y, something different. That's not really the meaning you are after, and might not be understood that way anyway, which is why I ignored it earlier.

In short, there is a fine distinction between the first example and the others, but for practical purposes you can treat them as the same.

  • 2
    +1 as this is the only answer I really understand. Perhaps you could mention that while it's possible to get the "obligation/ought to" meaning of "should" out of example 3. depending on the phrase ("even if I should be quiet, I'm going to talk anyway") we're not comparing that meaning, just the future subjunctive one?
    – aedia λ
    Jun 30, 2011 at 16:42
  • @aedia: Quite so. Even should the irrelevant preoccupation with a hypothetical 'obligation' interpretation not have been present in other answers, it's still worth Rhodri mentioning that possible interpretation! Jul 1, 2011 at 1:47
  • 1
    "So it is saying that X is one of the best options I have" is not necessary true - "Even should I fail miserably to provide a good answer, people will still waste time reading it" is hardly the best option, yet perfectly normal if not true statement. I think it is enough to say that "even" goes with the implied extreme, regardless if it is best, worst, weirdest, etc..
    – Unreason
    Jul 1, 2011 at 7:43
  • @Unreason: On the contrary, for the purposes of stopping people wasting time reading your answer, failing miserably to provide a good one is one of your better options. Not providing an answer at all would be best, but context suggests that's not an option for some reason.
    – user1579
    Jul 4, 2011 at 17:42
  • @Rhodri, but you are completely mistaken - to know if an answer is any good you have to read it, by which time it is too late! :) Anyway, thank you for the fish, but I was just nitpicking in attempt to suggest a correction of an obviously false statement in otherwise good answer.
    – Unreason
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:23

Answer edited after discussion

There are two interpretation

  1. DUTY

Even if I should...

Here should takes the meaning of


  1. used for talking about what is right, sensible, or correct
    a. used for saying or asking about the right or sensible thing to do or the right way to behave

(from macmillan), where in your first example should takes the meaning of if.

3. used after “if” or instead of “if” for describing a situation that may possibly happen

2. POSSIBILITY (when referring to a possible event in the future)

Even if I should...

can also mean

Even if I will...

Therefore if you are referring to actions in future you must look at the context. If you use the construct with other tenses the ambiguity is gone.

- "Even should I should..." does not work.
- The word "even" is not important here (which means it works as expected - macmillan: Even is used for emphasis mainly before a word, a phrase, or a clause beginning with “as,” “if,” or “though.”)

  • "If you should ever" seems to contradict this. Jun 30, 2011 at 10:01
  • @language hacker, contradicts what?
    – Unreason
    Jun 30, 2011 at 10:08
  • 3
    "Should" isn't being used in the first sense. Jun 30, 2011 at 10:45
  • @language hacker, I have updated my answer
    – Unreason
    Jun 30, 2011 at 14:17
  • From the limited context we have, it hardly seems likely that OP is concerned with the possible 'duty' sense of should, so I don't think it's helpful to introduce this right at the start of your answer. Jul 1, 2011 at 1:52

They all mean the same thing, basically, even the third example, which is actually "Even if I" added with a "should."

They're also all used to mean that the possibility of me changing my actions, would not change the results i.e.

Should in the second and third examples is being used in this way:

(used to express condition): Were he to arrive, I should be pleased.

Not as a auxiliary verb which implies obligation to the action, so all three statements mean the same. That's my two coins.

  • 1
    -1, I disagree, compare "Even if I should go to jail, I will not." vs "Even if I go to jail, I will not."
    – Unreason
    Jun 30, 2011 at 10:11
  • @Unreason, what's the difference? Besides, in the second one, it should be went i.e. Even if I went to jail, I will not.
    – Thursagen
    Jun 30, 2011 at 10:13
  • 1
    @Unreason: Will you compromise on your principles? Even if I go to jail, I will not!" It's not nonsensical :)
    – psmears
    Jun 30, 2011 at 11:34
  • 1
    I think all three examples are grammatically disastrous, but especially this one: Even should I had jumped ...
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Jun 30, 2011 at 12:02
  • 1
    "Even if I should ..." can be used either way -- as a subjunctive or as an indicator of liability/obligation. That part of the sentence is naturally ambiguous; you can't really tell which usage is intended until you get to the second half.
    – bye
    Jun 30, 2011 at 12:47

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