A colleague mentioned that while doing exams (in China) for academic English, using the word 'then' after an 'if' was marked as incorrect.

For example, "If it is raining then I will need my umbrella" vs "If it is raining, I will need my umbrella".

He thought this was because it was grammatically incorrect, however I have found other questions here that indirectly refute that. For example Can I use an if clause without then.

Is this a case of informal vs formal English instead?

  • 4
    I would say that using then after if is more formal, not less—especially in academia in general and logic in particular. But you certainly don't have to use then. It's a style choice. I'm amazed it would have been marked as incorrect. Perhaps there was a style guide in use that objected to it for some reason. But it's not ungrammatical. Sep 20, 2018 at 6:45
  • So it seems to be, neither formal or informal but a question of style. Sep 23, 2018 at 23:33

1 Answer 1


The fact seems that the then is very much there all the time, only it's elided more often than not; so much so it may now sound odd to hear the then in an if conditional.

If Santa Clause was real, (then) he would bring me a new bike.

src: If, Then Statements Require Commas © Constant Content 2018

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