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Conditional sentences are statements discussing known factors or hypothetical situations and their consequences. Complete conditional sentences contain a conditional clause (often referred to as the if-clause) and the consequence. Consider the following sentences

"I don't care if my brother hit you."

"If I made you mad, I'm sorry."

"If I hit you, I don't remember."

"I don't remember if I hit you or not."


If possible, it would be great to explain why.

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if-clauses that are indirect questions (i.e., interrogative content clauses) do not count as parts of conditional sentences. Their function in sentences is completely different.

"I don't remember" can be followed by an indirect question, thus:

I don't remember when George called.
I don't remember where I put my keys.
I don't remember if I hit him.

The same is true of "I don't care".

I don't care how you do it.
I don't care when you come to visit.
I don't care if someone hit you.

For more on indirect questions, see Question about question


The following is a conditional statement, however.

If I made you mad, I'm sorry.

However, it's a weak conditional. It's almost, but not exactly, a use of "if" as "that":

I'm sorry that I made you mad.

"sorry" is unusual in this way.

CJ

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How do we differentiate between the two? It sounds like "I don't care if someone hit you" is a conditional as it says "in the event that someone hit you, the consequence (result) is that I don't care."

Julian Ng-Thow-HingHow do we differentiate between the two?

Experience. The more you hear and speak the language, the more you realize what people usually mean by what they say (or write).

On the other hand, in some situations meanings can be ambiguous.

This one is perhaps a little ambiguous, but as a native speaker, I substitute "whether" for "if", and if that substitution doesn't seem to change the meaning, I think of it as an indirect question.

I don't care whether someone hit you sounds all right to me (with that indirect question), so I judge I don't care if someone hit you in the same way.

CJ

Is there a particular reason it's not a conditional, though? it really sounds like one.

The if clause - "If you got hit by someone."

The consequence (result) - "I don't care."

How a conditional is built - "If clause, consequence."

Is it just how english is? Whenever whether can be substituted with if, and it makes sense, if is used as an indirect question, and now a conditional?


For example, in the sentence "If I get hit by a car, I would be dead."

Subsituting Whether does not make sense, so it's a conditional.


This situation seems similar to the "but" meaning.

In the sentence: "Everyone but everyone is coming." initially sounds like Everyone except everyone is coming, which sounds like no one is coming, but it actually emphasizes that everyone is coming.

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Julian Ng-Thow-HingThe if clause - "If you got hit by someone."
The consequence (result) - "I don't care."

It may seem that way, but not caring doesn't really qualify as a state that is caused by any particular events. It's hard to imagine particular events triggering feelings of not caring. "I don't care" is like "It's not important to me", "I am indifferent to it". "You got hit" and "You didn't get hit" seem equally to trigger "I don't care".

It's not important to me whether you get hit or whether you don't get hit.

Both the one action and its opposite lead to the same result as I see it. If it's a conditional, it must be a very weak one. You might compare it to this:

If you heat the water or if you don't heat the water, it will boil.

In this case, it sounds wrong because you have a result that strongly depends on the condition:

If you heat the water, it will boil; if you don't heat the water, it won't boil.

Julian Ng-Thow-Hing

Whenever whether can be substituted with if, and it makes sense, if is used as an indirect question, and now a conditional?

For example, in the sentence "If I get hit by a car, I would be dead."

Subsituting Whether does not make sense, so it's a conditional.

Yes.

I should add that other indirect questions in the same position may make sense, and that's another clue that the if-clause is not a condition but an indirect question.

1) It's not important / I don't care / It doesn't matter ...
2) ... how you say it. / what you do. / if you arrive late.

The expressions in 1) take indirect questions as their complements.
The expressions in 2) are all indirect questions, both with or without if.

CJ

Now that I read what you said, I guess it's not a conditional as the feeling of indifference is not a result of the person getting hit by the car. The feeling just happens to be there, but is not caused by the event, as events can't really cause "not caring."

Though, some conditionals came up to mind when thinking about this topic, specifically, math ones.

"If two lines are parallel, then they have equal slope."

"If the shape is a square, it is a quadrilateral."

These are zero condtionals, right? It states that "If the shape is a square", the result is "it is a quadrilateral". Though, I've always believed that results or consequences never happen at the same time as the "condition".

Julian Ng-Thow-Hing"If two lines are parallel, then they have equal slope." "If the shape is a square, it is a quadrilateral."These are zero condtionals, right?

Right. And your examples from math are definitional ifs.

Julian Ng-Thow-HingThough, I've always believed that results or consequences never happen at the same time as the "condition".

They're not results in time. They are results of definition or results of logic, like these:

If I have left the party, I have not stayed at the party.
If I have stayed at the party, I have not left the party.

CJ

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I see.

Thank you for your clarification.

For final clarification,

Consequences of time refer to a particular moment (past, present or future), while Consequences of definition refer to another definition.

For example, in my previous example from yesterday: "If I was here to kill you, I wouldn't have knocked on the door."

This is a time ifs as the condition, and result refer to time.

"If two lines are parallel, then they have equal slope."

This is a definitional if as the consequence, and condition, aren't referring to time, but they are like general truths. This is because it is saying if these two lines are parallel (this condition is not referring to a time), it is a known fact, derived by the definition of the condition, they they have the same slope.

"If water is at 100°, it boils."

This is a definitional if, as well.

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