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I want a replacement for rains in the above, as it doesn't really make sense since it won't rain, it will snow.

I think I could use precipitates but I wouldn't use that in conversation as it seems overly wordy.

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I'm not sure you need another word - the phrase works really well because of the fallacy. –  Schroedingers Cat Feb 8 '12 at 9:16
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It's actually correct the way it is. It conveys the colloquial way of thought and expression, and carries with it its flavor. Making it technically accurate will deprive it of this quality. –  Kris Feb 8 '12 at 9:18
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@SchroedingersCat: Thought the same. –  Kris Feb 8 '12 at 9:19
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As a northerner, this phrase must only make sense in the South as hyperbole... –  Nick T Feb 8 '12 at 18:51
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"It's freezing". –  wim Feb 8 '12 at 23:39
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4 Answers

up vote 58 down vote accepted

Don't change a word! Your sentence is a fine example of a Yogiism (a pithy comment or witticism that uses paradox or tautology). Here are some of my favourite quotes attributed to Yogi Berra:

It ain't over till it's over.

This is like deja vu all over again.

You can observe a lot just by watching.

If you can't imitate him, don't copy him.

Baseball is 90% mental -- the other half is physical.

It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much.

Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded.

A nickel isn't worth a dime today.

I take a two hour nap, from one o'clock to four.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it!

I didn't really say everything I said.

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+1 for the wonderful citations. I wish I could upvote you again and again, you made me laugh today! –  Irene Feb 8 '12 at 10:15
    
Thank you, Irene. –  Pitarou Feb 8 '12 at 11:44
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Also: “A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there – pretty soon it adds up to real money.” and: “I would have to get better to die.” – and: “I believe in living within my means, even if I have to borrow to do so.” – and: “It’s bad luck to be superstitious.” and so on. As all these illustrate, deliberate mistakes are made at the object level for meta purposes all the time. Here’s another example: “Puhleez, let’s not let ourselves by seduced by the siren of hypercorrectness as the OP apparently was.” –  Hexagon Tiling Feb 10 '12 at 22:44
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The way it is now is perfectly correct and actually very witty and funny, so there's no need to change anything, but let me propose another idea, which should be equally good and maybe a bit simpler to understand.

It's so cold that if it wants to rain tomorrow, it will snow.

I'm inspired by the tagline of Resident Evil (1996 video game), which says:

If these walls could talk, they would scream.

It's not really the same thing, but you can see the similarities.

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You could go the technical route with:

It's so cold that, if the fall speed of water droplets (or ice particles) in clouds exceeds their updraft speed, it'll snow.

Edited to include:

It's so cold that, if the conditions are right for precipitation, it'll snow.

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I don't believe any human being ever has used or ever will use this sentence (and computers don't read EL&U). –  TimLymington Feb 8 '12 at 15:30
    
Maybe a pretentious meteorologist would use that sentence... or perhaps: It's so cold that, if the conditions are right for precipitation, it'll snow. –  GeoGriffin Feb 8 '12 at 16:38
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@TimLymington: don't be too quick in saying so. Do you remember the incipit of Musil's "Man without quality"? <<There was a depression over the atlantic. It was travelling eastwards, towards an area of high pressure over Russia, and still showed no tendancy to move northwards around it. The isotherms and isotheres were fulfilling their functions. (...) In short, to use an expression that describes the facts pretty satisfactorily, even though it is somewhat oldfashioned: it was a fine August day in the year 1913.>> –  Francesco Feb 8 '12 at 20:19
    
The OP's original phrasing is being justifiably praised in other answers and comments for its wittiness and humor, and I agree that leaving it alone is the best option. However, this answer also has humor by going the other way ("too smart"), so it would be a possibility for some uses. –  John Y Feb 8 '12 at 23:13
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It's so cold that if rain falls, snow will land.

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You mean it will change its mind half-way? lol –  Kris Feb 8 '12 at 9:52
    
No, it (the rain) will change its form half-way. –  RiMMER Feb 8 '12 at 11:01
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If it freezes on the way down, it becomes hail, not snow. –  Pitarou Feb 8 '12 at 11:45
    
@Pitarou: Actually, that'd be sleet. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_pellets –  Simon Feb 8 '12 at 15:16
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Yes, I was aware of the meteorological inaccuracy. But to write "it's so cold that all precipitation will be snow" was much less picturesque and kind of boring. –  user16269 Feb 8 '12 at 19:34
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protected by Will Hunting Mar 22 '12 at 20:25

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