With our everyday interactions with other people, I’m sure we’ve all tried asking each other questions. I’m also sure you’ve heard of or used ‘if so’ and ‘if yes’ before. But, you might be wondering, is there a difference between the two phrases? Let’s find out.
What Is The Difference Between ‘If So’ and ‘If Yes?’
‘If so’ and ‘if yes’ both mean ‘if this is the case’ or ‘if this is true for you.’ While they can be synonymous, the difference lies in their appropriate usage. We mainly only use ‘if yes’ for yes or no questions, while ‘if so’ is more general.
While both are grammatically correct, most speakers and writers prefer to use ‘if so’ since it is more flexible and less awkward-sounding. It seems more comfortable and applicable in almost all situations. We also use ‘if so’ for questions that could have multiple varying answers. On the other hand, we only use ‘if yes’ for strictly yes or no answers.
What Does ‘If So’ Mean?
‘If so’ means ‘if that is the case.’ When we say ‘if so,’ after a question, it means that ‘if that is the case, then.’ We use ‘if so’ for any question or situation, especially for those with varying answers that may still satisfy the question we asked.
‘If so’ is also often placed in the middle of the sentence or after the main question that is in the middle of the whole thought.
Below are examples of how to use ‘if so’ in a sentence.
- Are you the ones assigned to facilitate this session? If so, can you also take charge of documenting the attendance?
- Is there a good cell signal on where you’re standing? If so, I’ll try to call my mom and update her.
- Did you see the memo sent to us by the school a while ago? If so, I think we can adjust our calendar following the memo.
- I wanted to check if you’ve already updated our report sheets; if so, please proceed with sending them to our company director.
- Did you like the shrimp gambas served earlier? If so, I think you’ll also love their baked scallops.
- I wanted to know if our invited speaker has responded already; if so, you can proceed with sending her the other details.
- Were you able to attend the seminar yesterday? If so, I want to ask for notes since I missed the discussion.
What Does ‘If Yes’ Mean?
‘If yes’ means ‘if yes.’ When we say ‘if yes,’ after a yes or no question, it simply means ‘if yes’ or ‘if this is true for you, then.’ We also only use this phrase with questions that one answers strictly with ‘yes’ or ‘no.’
Unlike ‘if so,’ we only use ‘if yes’ in the front or first part of the sentence. Though, we still put it in the middle of the whole thought after the question. But, the question and ‘if yes’ cannot be in the same sentence.
Below are examples of how to use ‘if yes’ in a sentence.
- Have you been to the hospital within the last two weeks? If yes, please indicate the date when you last visited.
- Are you a person with a disability? If yes, please also fill out Form 3-A to complete your loan application.
- Are you a female? If yes, please use this door. We have separated our female OB-Gyn clinics for you to feel safer.
- Do you reside in Woodpecker Valleys? If yes, please draw an asterisk on the top right of your form paper.
- Are you a beginner in archery? If yes, it’s best you take our beginner’s training course.
- Are you the class president? If yes, please fill out this attendance sheet for class presidents.
- Are you leaving the seminar already? If yes, please fill out this short evaluation form before you leave the venue.
Are ‘If So’ And ‘If Yes’ Interchangeable?
‘If so’ and ‘if yes’ may be interchangeable but not all the time. For ‘yes or no’ questions, we can interchange and use either of the two phrases. However, for questions that have possible varying answers, only ‘if so’ is appropriate to use.
Let’s look at some examples of correct and incorrect usage below.
- Correct: Are you an eleventh-grade student of Brookville High School? If yes, please fill out this student identification form.
- Correct: Are you an eleventh-grade student of Brookville High School? If so, please fill out this student identification form.
In the example above, we can answer the question with a simple ‘yes, I am’ or ‘no, I am not.’ So, both ‘if so’ and ‘if yes’ are appropriate.
- Correct: Did you receive the graduation hat and the diploma already? If so, please check the two columns beside your name.
- Less appropriate: Did you receive the graduation hat and the diploma already? If yes, please check the two columns beside your name.
While ‘if yes’ is not exactly wrong, one may say ‘I received the hat but not the diploma’ among other varying answers to the question. It is why, for the sentence above, it is most appropriate to use ‘if so.’
Is ‘If So’ Or ‘If Yes’ Used The Most?
According to the Google Ngram Viewer, ‘if so’ is used more often than ‘if yes.’ We can also see the large gap between the usage of the two. It is probably because ‘if so’ is more flexible and appropriate in more situations than ‘if yes.’ Thus, people use it more.
Can I Use ‘If So’ And ‘If Yes’ In Email?
You can use ‘if so’ and ‘if yes’ in email letters. Both phrases are also formal. So, we can use them in academic writing and even in sending formal or business emails. Between the two though, ‘if so’ is more preferred for formal writing as it is more common.
How Do I Punctuate ‘If So’ And ‘If Yes?’
For both phrases, we put a comma after using it in the sentence. So, both phrases follow the format, ‘If so, _____________’ and ‘If yes, ____________.’ For ‘if so,’ if placed together in the same sentence as the question, a ‘;’ occurs before the phrase.
Take a look at some examples below.
- I wanted to check if we finished the report already; if so, please present it in tomorrow’s meeting.
- Have we finished the report already? If so, please present it in tomorrow’s meeting.
- Are you the secretary? If yes, please take note of your class attendance.
‘If So’ And ‘If Yes’ – Synonyms
Below are words and phrases synonymous with ‘if so’ and ‘if yes.’
- If that is the case
- If this applies to you
- If this is true
- In such an event
- If this is so
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.