What is the proper way to use if you will? Here is an example.

It's like riding a car, if you will.

Is the punctuation right?


Yes, that punctuation is correct.

If you will can be considered short for "if you will allow this analogy", which is the usage in your car example.

I once rode on the back of a camel. It's like riding a car, if you will permit the analogy.

As Elendil says it can also mean "if you want to".

Imagine, if you like, a typical silversmith's shop.

  • Haven't seen the longer version if you will allow this analogy used - is it common in writing or speech?
    – JoseK
    Jan 19 '11 at 10:16
  • 1
    That longer phrase is not standard, I just wrote that to explain the meaning of if you will. But if you will is certainly used in this context. Jan 19 '11 at 10:18

Yes, that seems good to me. The New Oxford American Dictionary has this example: “imagine, if you will, a typical silversmith's shop”.

  • Isn't that equivalent to "Imagine, please..."? That's a common usage, but not OP's example. Nov 30 '11 at 21:33

The punctuation is correct in your example but the usage is perhaps a little off.

'If you will' is short for 'if you will it', or 'if you want to'.

Therefore FX_'s example is saying:

'Imagine, if you want to, a typical silversmith's shop.

It can also be read as asking the reader to make a concession to what you are saying:

'The man was Australian, from 'Down Under', if you will.

Here you are 'asking' the reader to accept the use of 'Down Under'.

  • @Elendil "if you want to" is not the only interpretation of this. The car example does make sense, but doesn't have quite the meaning you indicate. Jan 19 '11 at 9:16
  • I stand corrected, and edit to that effect. :)
    – user3444
    Jan 19 '11 at 9:21

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