1. ## "If... then" construction

M. Swan gives that the if... then construction is to be used to emphasize that one thing depends on another. Keeping this in mind, I suppose the construction should be used sparingly, only when it is indeed to stress the dependency. I read, however, many texts in which this construction was used almost always when if appeared (needless to say, the texts weren't written in good English), and I must say I didn't like it. Maybe this is why I don't like the construction at all. Till I learned about it in Swan's book, I had been thinking it was a good way of clarifying the sentence if its both clauses were long and complex. My questions, then, are:
1. Can it be used with such an aim, that is, to clarify the meaning of the sentence comprising of complex clauses?
2. Is it often used with the meaning that Swan gives?

Thanks,
Nyggus

2. ## Re: "If... then" construction

Hello Nyggus,

1. Yes; if the protasis (the if-clause) is very long, and contains many convoluted clauses (perhaps with parentheses; or even parentheses within parentheses (not that one should encourage nested parentheses)), or perhaps even additional if-clauses (protases), if your taste runs to such things, then yes, a "then" can serve to notify the reader that the apodosis (the main clause) is at last about to begin.

2. Yes; the "if X, then Y" structure can be used to emphasise the dependency of Y on X; though it may bring with it a whiff of the "if p, then q" of Logic.

(In ordinary usage, by the way, "If X, then Y" doesn't necessarily have a sense of "If and only if X, then Y".)

MrP

3. ## Re: "If... then" construction

Thanks, MrP:

Originally Posted by MrPedantic
1. Yes; if the protasis (the if-clause) is very long, and contains many convoluted clauses (perhaps with parentheses; or even parentheses within parentheses (not that one should encourage nested parentheses)), or perhaps even additional if-clauses (protases), if your taste runs to such things, then yes, a "then" can serve to notify the reader that the apodosis (the main clause) is at last about to begin.
From now on I will never hesitate to use then in such compounded sentences!

Originally Posted by MrPedantic
2. Yes; the "if X, then Y" structure can be used to emphasise the dependency of Y on X; though it may bring with it a whiff of the "if p, then q" of Logic.

(In ordinary usage, by the way, "If X, then Y" doesn't necessarily have a sense of "If and only if X, then Y".)
Well, yes, this is, I reckon, quite obvious. Take, for example, the sentence: "If I were you I wouldn't put your finger into a huge barking dog's eye." Should it also carry the following meaning: "As I am not you, I would put my [or your ] finger into a huge barking dog's eye."?

Nyggus

4. ## Re: "If... then" construction

Not to me; it carries the meaning 'I am not you and won't put my finger in' and 'I think it's sensible if you don't, though it is your decision as I am not you'.

5. ## Re: "If... then" construction

Originally Posted by Tdol
Not to me; it carries the meaning 'I am not you and won't put my finger in' and 'I think it's sensible if you don't, though it is your decision as I am not you'.
Exactly, this was the point!

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