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'unless' and 'if ... not' have the same meaning?

English grammar help. Grammar questions from ESL learners

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'unless' and 'if ... not' have the same meaning?

Postby anhminh » Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:28 pm

Could you please tell me what the meaning of the following sentence is?
Unless they get protection, they will not testify.

I think it means
If they do not get protection, they will not testify.

The two sentences have an relatively equal meaning, right?
Thank you.
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Re: 'unless' and 'if ... not' have the same meaning?

Postby Alan » Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:32 am

In this case, the two sentences happen to be equivalent in meaning.

There are, however, many cases in which 'if not' does not constitute a meaningful replacement for 'unless'.
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