English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

"If you're tired, you should sleep."

What is the name for the phrase "If you're tired" in this sentence? Obviously "you should sleep" could stand alone as a sentence.

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I prefer to call it an if-clause, or the conditional part.

I suppose you may call it the πρότασις if you’d really like to, but that’s a bit rich for my blood — even when transliterated into Latin letters as protasis.

Note that the ordering does not matter; the conditional part is set in bold in all these examples, no matter whether it comes first or second, and no matter its spelling:

  • If you’re tired, sleep.
  • If you’re tired, you should sleep.
  • Sleep if you’re tired.
  • I’d sleep if I were that tired.
  • Unless I were incredibly tired, I wouldn’t sleep in my car.
  • I wouldn’t sleep here unless I were dead-tired.
  • Should you become too weary to drive safely, pull over immediately and take a nap!
  • If Santa Clause was already here, then how come the chimney’s still plugged with that old crow’s nest?

For the protatically inclined, the other part of the conditional (that is, its consequent) is called the ἁπόδοσις, or if you prefer, the apodosis.

share|improve this answer

I suggest calling the protasis the "condition," and calling the apodosis the "consequence."

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.