avatarJohn Douglas Porter

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“If . . . Then . . .”

An observation

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Anyone who’s interested in language responds to certain words and constructions. One of my friends cringes whenever he hears “Between you and I.” Another nearly vomits whenever she hears sucks in constructions like “He sucks,” “She sucks,” “Your term paper sucks.” I sigh whenever I hear “If . . . then . . .” in constructions like “If you want to call our station, then the phone number is 1–800–123–4567.”

That construction is objectionable because if the phone number is in fact 1–800–123–4567, it’s still the number whether or not you want to call the station.

How objectionable is that construction? I think “Between you and I” and “Your term paper sucks” are worse. But whenever I hear “If you want to call our station, then the number is [whatever it is},” I sigh.

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