‘In the case of’ vs. ‘in case of’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

It’s easy to make a mistake in this one. If you want to say “if something happens (by chance), then …”, you should use “in case of”, without the article:

In case of fire, call the fire department. (correct)
In the case of fire, call the fire department. (wrong)
In case of rain, we will come back home. (correct)
In the case of rain, we will come back home. (unnatural)

“In case” can be used in the same meaning also without “of” in the phrase “just in case” which means “if something understood from the context happens”:

It’s dangerous outside. I’ll take my gun with me, just in case.

Note also that “in case something happens” (without “of”) means “because something might happen”, for example:

I’ll take an umbrella in case it rains.

The phrase “in the case of” exists as well, and it is usually used in the meaning “regarding”, “in the matter of”, “in relation to”:

I know that you have always been faithful, but in the case of your husband, I wouldn’t be so sure he is not cheating on you. (correct)
I know that you have always been faithful, but in case of your husband, I wouldn’t be so sure he is not cheating on you. (wrong)

This article was based on my guide to the most common mistakes in English, which explains many similar topics. Why don’t you check it out?

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