A clause that expresses a condition introduced by if or by some equivalent word or phrase is called a conditional clause.
A sentence that contains a conditional clause is called a conditional sentence.
1. If it rains, we shall remain at home.
2. I shall attend the convention if I am in town.
3. I will take this book, if you please.
A conditional sentence in its simplest form consists of two parts.
(1) A subordinate (adverbial) clause, commonly introduced by if, and expressing the condition.
(2) A main clause expressing the conclusion, that is, the statement which is true in case the condition expressed in the if-clause is true.
Thus in the first example, the condition is if it rains; the conclusion is we shall remain at home.
Either the condition or the conclusion may come first.
The conditional clause is often called the protasis
and the conclusion is often called the apodosis
The conclusion of a conditional sentence may be declarative, interrogative, imperative or exclamatory.
1. If you go to Philadelphia, where shall you stay? [Interrogative.]
2. Sit here, if you wish. [Imperative.]
3. If you win the prize, how glad I shall be! [Exclamatory.]
A conditional clause may be introduced by provided (or provided that), granted that, supposing (or suppose), on condition that.
1. I will permit you to go, on condition that you come home early.
2. You may have the money, provided you will put it in the bank.
3. Supposing (or suppose) it rains, what shall we do?
Suppose is really an imperative and supposing a participle, the clause being the object.
A negative condition is commonly introduced by if ... not or unless.
1. I will wait for him, if you do not object.
2. Unless you overcome that habit, you will be ruined.
Double (or alternative) conditions may be introduced by whether ... or.
1. Whether he goes or stays, he must pay a week’s board. [Compare: If he goes or if he stays, etc.]
2. He is determined to buy that car, whether you approve or not. [That is: if you approve or if you do not approve.]
A conditional clause may be introduced by whoever, whenever, or some similar compound.
1. Whoever offends, is punished. [Compare: If anybody offends, he is punished.]
2. Whoever shall offend, shall be punished.
3. Whomever you ask, you will be disappointed. [Compare: If you shall ask anybody.]
4. He will come whenever [= if ever] he is called.
In older English and in poetry, who is common in this construction such as……Who [= whoever] steals my purse, steals trash (Shakespeare).
A conditional clause sometimes omits the copula and its subject.
1. I will go if [it is] necessary.
2. If [it is] possible, come to-morrow.
3. The if-clause is sometimes used as an exclamation, with the conclusion omitted.
4. If I only had a rifle!
A condition may be expressed by means of an assertion, a question, an imperative or the absolute construction.
1. We take the receiver from the hook and the operator answers. We replace it and the connection is broken. [Compare: If we take the receiver from the hook, the operator answers, etc.]
2. Press that button, and the bell will ring.
3. Do you refuse? Then you must take the consequences.
4. We shall sail on Monday, weather permitting.
vvvv In such cases, there is no subordinate conditional clause. Thus, in the first example, we have two independent coordinate clauses,
making a compound sentence.
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