Patterico's Pontifications


“If You Will . . .”

Filed under: Grammar — Patterico @ 9:32 pm

It always bugs me when people say “if you will . . .”

I won’t.

22 Responses to ““If You Will . . .””

  1. I don’t mind it… if it’s followed by “take this big bag of cash.”

    Actually, anything followed by a big bag of cash is OK by me.

    Russ (8bb875)

  2. “Russ, you will give me a big bag of cash.”

    Since that’s OK with you! 🙂

    Dana (3e4784)

  3. Um, well, it’s sort of condescending. The implication is usually “You know you ought to it, but will you?”

    Psyberian (1cf529)

  4. I believe that most people who say this mean the same thing they would mean were they to say “If you would”.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  5. And it always bugs me when people forget to put the final period after a sentence-ending ellipsis, so it looks like we each have our own gripe … if you will…. 🙂

    ras (f9de13)

  6. Then I trust you disliked the “historian” in this movie. Play the movie. You won’t regret it.

    Karl Maher (910b19)

  7. How about “with all due respect,” which is always followed by something insulting?

    Attila (Pillage Idiot) (471b7c)

  8. Attila:

    It simply means that all of the respect that is due amounts to very little.

    Dana (3e4784)

  9. “If you will …” has the equivalent meaning to “If you choose to …” …

    For some, the ellipsis is sentence-ending … .

    For others, it indicates that the continuance of the thought is encouraged …

    Alasdair (0c1945)

  10. I view this as a common courtesy. It is rarely seen in print, almost always in conversation. It alerts the the other person that you are about to refute some point. It is the velvet glove equivalent of en garde.

    Roy Lofquist (7855c5)

  11. Off topic…

    Saddam’s atrocities exposed on video

    Less that 12-minutes of some 6-billion plus minutes.

    KarmiCommunist (0295f1)

  12. Alasdair,

    The sentence-ending ellipsis, even when further thought is encouraged, is still followed by a period, or perhaps a question mark or an exclamation point or….

    Note too the spacing before the first period in the 4 period sequence: i.e. there is none, whereas the three period ellipsis … you see, it has a space both before and after.

    This is how I was taught, and for good measure I looked it up online at multiple sites before commenting, just in case. It’s no big deal in and of itself, but if Patrick was gonna go schoolmarmy over “if you will,” well … who am I to resist temptation!

    ras (f9de13)

  13. When I use an ellipsis, it’s two dots followed immediately by the sentence-ending period, no space in between.

    After all, there’s no space between the last letter of the last word in a sentence, and the period…

    McGehee (5664e1)

  14. What exactly are we talking about? Are we talking about using the phrase at the end of a sentence, as in “A cad – a scoundrel, if you will.”

    This is shorthand, as I read it, for “if you will accept my usage of the term.” An abbreviation. A truncation, if you will. (NARF!!!)

    On the other hand, “if you will” as a conditional statement is NOT interchangeable with “if you would.” The meanings are subtly different. The latter expression indicates the subjunctive mood, the former does not.

    Any of the above is ok by me.

    Jason Van Steenwyk (45240d)

  15. “The question is whether the Iranian people will regime change, if I may.”
    – Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Moments Ago

    Wesson (c20d28)

  16. “If you will” sounds phoney. As if a person is thinking that they may or are impressing somebody.

    Joe (d5285c)

  17. Jason Van Steenwyk is correct. “If you will” means, “Pardon my terminology.”

    Bonnie Granat (3c643b)

  18. I’m interested in the sentence “If you but will” that appears in page 4 of Finnegans Wake. Can anyone comment on it?

    Hector Cane (3dc6ca)

  19. I agree most with Joe: it is phony to say ‘if you will’ and adds a pretentious air, not a clarifier or emphasis. Dick Cheney started the modern phenomenon of its poisonous spill when he cited that the “insurgency was in the last throes, if you will…” Most insecure broadcasters and now every clown I meet has adopted the phrase to add an air of faux respect and elegance to the most innane utterances. Language is dynamic, I remember, always changing or it dies like Latin. But this country marching to the copycat tongue of Cheney disgusts me one notch more.

    michael sledge (1105b4)

  20. I am so annoyed every time I hear this phrase “if you will” that I googled it to see if there was any info on it’s usage…I found this site and I see that my impressions on it’s usage are exactly as some others feel…it’s nothing more than an attempt to sound impressive…used by insecure dumbasses who want to sound oh so intelligent…they heard it somewhere (hard not to hear it everywhere) so now they pepper their conversation with it not knowing what it means…it’s almost never used correctly…Mark Nesto on CNBC is a major culprit…he squeezes it in within 15 seconds every time he’s on…Joe Barber…the CEO of JetBlue was on Larry King the other night and he used it 15 times in the first 8 minutes…yes, I’m counting now…today on CNBC some jackass said “today stocks are down, if you will”…I blew a gasket and fired off an email to him…a good writer would never use such a phrase…imagine: “all the worlds a stage, if you will”…it’s condesending to the audience to assume that they may not understand the metaphor…that they need this “if you will” qualifier to alert them that the speaker is being creative with his comparison…and yes, this nonsense started with Cheney…”the dark side, if you will”…who the hell would want to mimic him?

    william ryan (36e642)

  21. “If you will, is a phrase that, like, has no meaning. It invites, like, pomposity in the same manner that, well, like, does in reverse.

    jim (d671ab)

  22. Sorry, Dick Cheney did not start the “if you will” surge. It’s been going on for a long time. As was previously stated, it is often spoken by those who want to impress. But it can mean “if you will accept my usage of the term.”

    Linda (17ee56)

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