Learn English Grammar, Vocabulary
Practical English Usage, Writing
Grammar terms and Speaking
Reference Desk
English Grammar
Practical English Usage
Grammatical Terms
English Writing
English Speaking
Business English
Interactive Pages
English grammar and vocabulary exercises
Grammar worksheets



English Grammar

In case and if

In case is used to talk about things which we do in order to be ready for possible future situations.

  • I always take an umbrella in case it rains. (= because it might rain.)

After in case, we use a present tense to refer to the future.

We often use should + infinitive after in case. This adds the meaning ‘by chance’. This structure is common in sentences about the past.

  • I wrote down her address in case I should forget it.
In case and if

In British English, in case and if are used in quite different ways.


  • Let us buy a chicken in case Peter comes. (=Let us buy a chicken now because Peter might come later.)
  • Let us buy a chicken if Peter comes. (=We will wait and see. If Peter comes, then we will buy the chicken. If he doesn’t we won’t.)

In American English, in case can sometimes be used in the same way as if.

The prepositional phrase in case of is often used in similar situations to if.

  • In case of fire, break glass. (=If there is fire ...)

Search the Dictionary of Practical English Usage

Show Full Index


Subscribe and win a Grammar eBook

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Can't find it?

Custom Search