‘Even if’, ‘even though’, and ‘even when’ are often used similarly and the different nuance that each of them implies can be hard to comprehend. Therefore, understanding and trying to use different types of ‘even’ properly could be an effective way to improve the structure and coherency of both your writing tasks and speech.
‘Even’ is like a signpost that emphasises that a result is unexpected. These expressions are not always interchangeable; the context of the sentence will affect your choice.
In these examples, let’s use the sentence ‘Even XXX he studied very hard, he still failed his math tests’ as an example and see what each sentence denotes and the difference.
Why ‘Even’ is a tricky word to master
1. Even though
Example: Even though he studied very hard, he still failed his maths tests.
- ‘Even though’ is used when something is always done or a fact is mentioned.
Using ‘even though’ in this sentence presupposes that he did study hard. In spite of his hard work, he still failed his maths tests. This is the result we try to avoid with your IELTS exam!
2. Even when
Example: Even when he studied very hard, he still failed his maths tests.
- ‘Even when’ is used when something is occasionally done.
Normally he doesn’t study hard, but this time he studied very hard, but unfortunately, even on the one occasion he did study very hard, he still failed his maths tests. He might study sometimes, but not enough. Borrowed plumes are sure to come off sooner or later! Hasty study does not seem very effective.
3. Even if
Example: Even if he studied very hard, he still failed his math tests.
- ‘Even if’ is used when something is rarely done or just imagined.
This sentence implies that he did not study very hard, and further assumes that the result should still be the same (fail), whether or not he studies very hard. Regardless of whether or not he studied, he always failed the test.
4. Even so
There is one more way to use ‘even’: ‘even so’. This expression is used in a slightly different way to the others mentioned above. You could replace ‘but’ or ‘however’ with ‘even so’, just make sure you are emphasising a surprising or unexpected result.
Example: He didn’t study at all, and stayed up all night before his exam, even so, he still passed.
In other words, it was very unexpected that he managed to pass, considering his irresponsible attitude before his exam.