Marcy Sheiner asked a question about an English expression “if you will” several weeks ago. So Marcy, this post is for you.
Here’s Marcy’s comment/question/pet peeve.
Marcy Sheiner says:
July 14, 2010 at 12:09 pm
This is a pet peeve rather than a question, but maybe you can tell me if there is ever a sane reason to use the phrase “if you will.” I’ve noticed it’s beoming most trendy, in speech more than writing, but sill. And what on earth does it mean?????
I have been hearing – and reading – this phrase used for as long as I can remember and didn’t really think much about it. Since Marcy brought it up, though, I thought about it a little bit and did some research as well.
From what I understand of the phrase, it is a way of making a concession. Using “if you will” (usually at the end of your statement) is akin to saying “if you wish to do so” or “if you want”.
Several forums provide the same explanation. Take a look at these examples:
He wasn’t a very honest person, a liar if you will. – Idioms
Think, if you will, about …. – Yahoo Answers
Basically, the phrase is used when you want to state something but are not totally committing yourself to a position. It seems that the phrase is an informally accepted, but it does make some people cringe.
Personally, I don’t mind reading/hearing/using it, as long as it’s not excessive. How about you? What do you think about this phrase?