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Hello guys. I got a question and please help me out here.
There is a sentence like,

"If you are wanting to accomplish a specific goal, it is best if you set aside some time in the morning, before you daily routine begins, and get thins done on it while you still have your fulll store of willpower for the day. "

Well, I do understand the first "If" makes a conditional sentence, but I don't understand what the second "if" is. For me,

"If you are wanting to accomplish a specific goal, it is best that you set aside some time in the morning, before you daily routine begins, and get things done on it while you still have your full store of willpower for the day." seems right.

In this way, "that clause" can make the real subject while "it" is the dummy subject. But with "if", can it play the same role as "that" in the sentence above?

As far as I know, "if" plays two roles. One is conditional, and seocnd one is to make noun clause with the meaning of "whether or not"
Obviously it can't be conditional, since there is already a conditional if sentence, and in my opinion, it can' be the nouhn clause "if" since it doesn't seem right to me when it comes to its meaning.

Can anybody explain it to me?
I need HELPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!
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I would say it's a nested conditional: "If X then (if Y then Z)". However, the conditional strength of the second "if" is weakened by being wrapped up in the "it is best if ..." pattern.
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Jane NamIf you are wanting to accomplish a specific goal, it is best if you set aside some time in the morning, before you daily routine begins, and get thins done on it while you still have your full store of willpower for the day.

Let's abbreviate this.

[If you want to accomplish a goal], [it is best [if you work on it in the morning]].

I'm inclined to agree with GPY's idea of embedded if-clauses, but exploring the possibility of another angle, we can think of the embedded if-clause in terms of its paraphrase, thus:

[If you want to accomplish a goal], [it is best for you [to work on it in the morning]].

Here we can think of the infinitive clause as an extraposed clause that comes from

[If you want to accomplish a goal], [[to work on it in the morning] is best for you].

Or, as such clauses are normally in the -ing form in subject position:

[If you want to accomplish a goal], [[working on it in the morning] is best for you].


I think this is what you had in mind when you asked if that if-clause at the end could be considered the subject of the larger "it is best" clause. The if-clause itself can't be used as the subject, as in the ungrammatical "sentence"

*If you work on it in the morning is best.

Likewise for

*If you write down the answers works best.
*If we use neutral colors might be better.
*If your buyers have cash to put down is best.

Maybe you could say that such constructions must undergo extraposition to make them grammatical, with this result:

It is best if you work on it in the morning.
It works best if you write down the answers.
and so on.

What's interesting is that you can also "fix" the ungrammatical sentences by placing the "it" after the if-clause. Some are a little awkward, but some are all right.

If you work on it in the morning, it is best.
If you write down the answers, it works best.
If we use neutral colors, it might be better.
If your buyers have cash to put down, it is best.

The 'it' then refers to the whole preceding if-clause. I'm inclined to call these "self-referencing conditionals", but that's just my personal terminology.

In any case, it is a very special use of "if". I think most analysts would stop at saying your sentence has two conditional clauses, and that is probably all that is really necessary.


The full sentence you quoted is the kind of sentence you could present to five grammarians and get at least twelve different opinions of how it is structured grammatically. Emotion: smile

CJ

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Comments  

"if" is a sub-ordinate conjunction (adverb clause) as conditional

"If and Whether" both are "noun clause markers", and they often used to report a Y/N question.

They are noun clauses functioning as a noun (Subject- object - complement). We only use "whether noun clause" as subject, but not "if noun clause".

Jane Namit is best if you set aside some time in the morning

I see the clause above as a zero-conditional one: If you set aside some time in the morning, it is best (for you).

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CGEL qualifies the usage of if ambiguously, first as a marker of subordination, hence it is named a subordinator (the one that introduces a subordinate clause in the sentence), second as a preposition. The if-subordinator is different from the if that has conditional meaning in conditionals. CGEL classifies if as a preposition in conditionals and says that prototypically such if introduces an adjunct. In other words, if in conditionals is the head of the prepositional phrase.

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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.