In an email I received from my university, the following is stated: ''Should you have decided to do the assignment, please send us an email.''

My question is whether the inversion and usage of should is right here. To me, ''If'' in stead of ''should'' would make more sense. In my research I've only found present tenses of the ''should-inversion.''

I understand the usage of ''should'' in this case is highly formal, yet the rest of the e-mail is very informal. The more I look at it, the more it seems normal to me.

  • Have decided is a present tense (of a perfect construction). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 27 '18 at 9:27

It has a different meaning with the perfect, so it is not a question of which is more common, but of which meaning is intended. "Should you decide..." means if you decide at some point in the future, let us know (then). "Should you have decided..." means if you already decided let us know (now).

As for the if/should question, they do have basically the same meaning. To my ear, should sounds like an official form where someone is saying "I am not allowed to put pressure on you either way, so please make up your own mind". Modern forms, where they try to make them sound less legalistic often use if and they make me cringe, but just because I am not used to it. It is valid English and means exactly the same thing. It does not favour either outcome. If you do want to favour one outcome, say "if you were to" which is a slight discouragement.

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