The conjunction "if" is used a lot in scientific writing. I wonder if it is correct to replace it with "when" and/or "whenever".

For example, instead of writing:

(1) a · b = 0 if a, b are orthogonal.


(2) a · b = 0 whenever a, b are orthogonal.


(3) a · b = 0 when a, b are orthogonal.

I read sentences like (2) and (3) in many scientific articles, but they were not written by English speakers, so I am not sure if they are correct.


They are all equally correct and equivalent one-way statements of implication. In other words, none of them means the two way "iff".

They all say:

a, b are orthogonal implies a · b = 0


orthogonal(a,b) => a . b = 0

  • Thanks. Could you please tell me if the three sentences are also "natural" ? I mean that an English speaker would not find them weird. I ask because sometimes certain sentences are correct but no English speaker would ever say them. – JerryAZ Jan 27 at 16:11
  • Are they natural? Yes, they sound better in English that is not technical, but they are less the norm in math. You are improving on formulaic language. I wouldn't. – Yosef Baskin Jan 27 at 16:23

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