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Is it grammatical to introduce a result clause by using then as in these examples:

  • Don’t be lazy – then you will fail.

  • Don’t kill him – then you will regret it.

If so, then is the then in these examples a conjunction?

I’ve not found any resources that mention this – they usually say that result clauses are usually introduced by conjunctions such as so or so that which in the above examples would read:

  • Don’t be lazy so that you then fail.

  • Don’t kill him so you regret it.

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Where have you seen any of these sentences? – Barrie England Jun 29 '12 at 19:30
General Reference. In OP's examples, "then" equates to "it follows that". The conjunction implied before it in both cases is "because [if you do]". – FumbleFingers Jun 29 '12 at 20:48
@BarrieEngland - I wrote them; as a native speaker they seem ok to me but I'm including the same type of construction in an article for print and just wanted to know what the grammaticality of it is in a prescriptive sense. Any ideas?Thanks for the comment. – nicholas ainsworth Jun 30 '12 at 13:32
In each of these examples, you could replace 'then' with 'or else' to get the meaning you are after. 'or else' is probably directly opposite in meaning to 'then'. – Karl Jul 1 '12 at 6:26
Can you actually use "so" in this manner? It feels awkward and colloquial to my ears, and my attempts at parsing them lead initially to the opposite reasoning: "In order that you regret [your decision], do not kill him" (more concisely: not killing him leads to regret). – Yamikuronue Sep 12 '12 at 20:43

Idiomatically, the better word or phrase for those examples is "or" or "or else". I am not sure about the technical grammar of them.

"Don't be lazy or you will fail."

"Don't kill him or else you will regret it."

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Alternately, you could keep the then but change the beginning from an imperative to a conditional: "If you kill him, then you will regret it." – Cameron Jun 29 '12 at 20:11
also, "Don't be lazy, lest you fail." But that rather formal – Charles Aug 14 '12 at 19:00

Your examples seem fundamentally flawed, in that the clause then you will fail could logically refer either to [If] you are lazy or to [If] you are not lazy.

Work hard, then you will succeed would seem to be a better example, (and unobjectionable); but are you asking specifically about negative exhortations?

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