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   Chapter 23 Condition or Supposition.

An English Grammar By William Malone Baskervill Characters: 3676

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

221. The most common way of representing the action or being as merely thought of, is by putting it into the form of a supposition or condition; as,-

Now, if the fire of electricity and that of lightning be the same, this pasteboard and these scales may represent electrified clouds.-Franklin.

Here no assertion is made that the two things are the same; but, if the reader merely conceives them for the moment to be the same, the writer can make the statement following. Again,-

If it be Sunday [supposing it to be Sunday], the peasants sit on the church steps and con their psalm books.-Longfellow.


222. There are three kinds of conditional sentences:-

Real or true.

(1) Those in which an assumed or admitted fact is placed before the mind in the form of a condition (see Sec. 215, 2); for example,-

If they were unacquainted with the works of philosophers and poets, they were deeply read in the oracles of God. If their names were not found in the registers of heralds, they were recorded in the Book of Life.-Macaulay.

Ideal,-may or may not be true.

(2) Those in which the condition depends on something uncertain, and may or may not be regarded true, or be fulfilled; as,-

If, in our case, the representative system ultimately fail, popular government must be pronounced impossible.-D. Webster.

If this be the glory of Julius, the first great founder of the Empire, so it is also the glory of Charlemagne, the second founder.-Bryce.

If any man consider the present aspects of what is called by distinction society, he will see the need of these ethics. -Emerson.

Unreal-cannot be true.

(3) Suppositions contrary to fact, which cannot be true, or conditions that cannot be fulfilled, but are presented only in order to suggest what might be or might have be

en true; thus,-

If these things were true, society could not hold together. -Lowell.

Did not my writings produce me some solid pudding, the great deficiency of praise would have quite discouraged me.-Franklin.

Had he for once cast all such feelings aside, and striven energetically to save Ney, it would have cast such an enhancing light over all his glories, that we cannot but regret its absence.-Bayne.

NOTE.-Conditional sentences are usually introduced by if, though, except, unless, etc.; but when the verb precedes the subject, the conjunction is often omitted: for example, "Were I bidden to say how the highest genius could be most advantageously employed," etc.


In the following conditional clauses, tell whether each verb is indicative or subjunctive, and what kind of condition:-

1. The voice, if he speak to you, is of similar physiognomy, clear, melodious, and sonorous.-Carlyle.

2. Were you so distinguished from your neighbors, would you, do you think, be any the happier?-Thackeray.

3. Epaminondas, if he was the man I take him for, would have sat still with joy and peace, if his lot had been mine.-Emerson.

4. If a damsel had the least smattering of literature, she was regarded as a prodigy.-Macaulay.

5. I told him, although it were the custom of our learned in Europe to steal inventions from each other,... yet I would take such caution that he should have the honor entire.-Swift.

6. If he had reason to dislike him, he had better not have written, since he [Byron] was dead.-N. P. Willis.

7. If it were prostrated to the ground by a profane hand, what native of the city would not mourn over its fall?-Gayarre.

8. But in no case could it be justified, except it be for a failure of the association or union to effect the object for which it was created.-Calhoun.

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