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I have the following sentence:

If T had still been alive, there is the great possibility that either T or C ...

My teacher says that the word "then" must appear after the comma, but I think that it's implied and unnecessary. Who is right?

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I think your teacher was speaking of Visual Basic, not English :) –  b.roth Dec 13 '10 at 16:17
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I was always told not to put in "then" when writing documentation as it made it look too much like the code. –  Brian Hooper Dec 13 '10 at 17:38
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You could start saying this instead: "If, parenthesis, T had still been alive, end parenthesis, curly brace, there is the great possibily that either T or C ..., end curly brace." Just to annoy your teacher [especially if he knows programming]. :) –  muntoo Dec 18 '10 at 1:53
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It would be interesting if an answer could explain when "then" is to be preferred and when it is not; there is more to it than "it is not required". –  Cerberus Mar 11 '11 at 18:11

3 Answers 3

up vote 47 down vote accepted

It is not necessary to use then to introduce the consequence of the if clause:

If you build it, they will come.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

If I give you five dollars a week, you'll have over $250 by the end of the year.

All those are grammatically correct and clear (even the one with ain't, which I threw in for a grin.).

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"If you think this answer is useful, please upvote it." :) –  user730 Dec 13 '10 at 16:20
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Robusto is correct. Frequently, at least in modern American usage, "then" is associated with someone is being serious or a little upset. e.g. "If you keep drinking, then I want you out of my house." or "If you ate the last banana, then you should have bought more!" –  leoger Dec 13 '10 at 18:53
    
+1 Absolutely correct. The "then" is often implied in "if" clauses. –  Satanicpuppy Dec 13 '10 at 21:38
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@J.M. If not, then don't. ;) –  muntoo Dec 18 '10 at 1:55
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As said here @muntoo, the "then" can (usually) be removed with no loss of clarity: "If not, don't" ;D –  user730 Dec 18 '10 at 2:16

You. He/she is just being pedantic.

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Isn't overly pedantic redundant? Wait, was that pedantic of me? –  webbiedave Dec 13 '10 at 17:50
    
@webbiedave: possibly. :) –  haylem Dec 13 '10 at 18:08
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It does not seem to me that he/she is pedantic, but he/she is just wrong. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Dec 17 '10 at 11:40

You can easily answer this backwards.

Consider

I will go, if you go.

I can simply flip it and say

If you go, I will go

I don't see myself obligated to write "then" in the second sentence!
If that is true, then I should have "then" in the first sentence, too! Your teacher is probably trying to come up with a reason why he took points off.

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What a mean teacher. –  muntoo Dec 18 '10 at 1:56
    
Do those sentences need commas (- especially the first one)? –  WAF Feb 20 '11 at 14:48
    
@WAF The first sentence does not require a comma. –  WendiKidd Jul 1 '12 at 18:17

protected by RegDwigнt Jan 14 '13 at 9:34

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