1

On this page in Wikipedia!, it states for first conditional sentences:

The condition can also be expressed using the modal verb should. This form can be used to make an
inverted condition clause without a conjunction:
If you should make a mistake, ... (equivalent to "If you make a mistake")
Should you make a mistake, ... (inverted form again equivalent to the above).
Otherwise, the condition clause in a first conditional pattern is not normally formed with
a modal verb, other than can.

On English Stack Exchange many people write about should replacing if.
For example on this page called 'A special use of “should”?' the sentence
'Wilkinson is contesting the release, and threatened to sue should it be released.'
is given as an example. But are there usage for other modal verbs in an inverted
conditional sentence such as can and will, as opposed to the more commonly used should, had and were?

We know the following four pairs are equivalent:

If you feel hungry, ...(usual condition clause)
Should you feel hungry, ... (inverted form)

If she were here, ...(usual condition clause)
Were she here, ...(inverted form)

If you shot, ...(usual condition clause)
Were you to shoot, ... (inverted form)

If he had written, ...(usual condition clause)
Had he written, ... (inverted form)

But is this pair equivalent?
1). If she can be here, ... (usual condition clause)
Can she be here, ...(inverted form)

And what if you use it in the second part of a sentence?
2). Only with good teaching practices can you make the biggest impact in the classroom.
3). Only with more practice will you become better at it.

  • If you can give a full sentence for your first example it will be easier to analyse (statement). Can you do that? (question). For the other examples the two verbs are effectively interchangeable (but this won't be the case with every similar usage). – FumbleFingers Apr 8 '14 at 17:26
  • Note that the inversion in your #2 and #3 examples is due to the leading "only". You can see this if you compare it to a version that drops the word "only". E.g. "With more practice you will become better at it." – F.E. Apr 8 '14 at 18:37
  • A similar construction to were she here is one that uses the present subjunctive, rather than the past subjunctive, of the verb be. The meaning is basically the same, except not past; see more about it in this answer. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 13 '14 at 23:00
  • “It is clear that a division of conditionals into the zero, first, second, and third categories does not adequately reflect actual usage.” —from “If only it were true: the problem with the four conditionals”, Christian Jones and Daniel Waller, ELT Journal 65:1 pp 24–32 (2011), Oxford University Press, doi: 10.1093/elt/ccp101. – tchrist Jan 24 '15 at 14:36
1

But is this pair equivalent?

  1. (a) If she can be here, ... (usual condition clause)

    (b) Can she be here, ... (inverted form)

No, these are not equivalent. "Can she be here" is a question form that asks if (1a) is true:

If she can be here tomorrow, we will pay her double.

Can she be here tomorrow? We will pay her double.

This essentially accomplishes the same purpose but it isn't the same kind of inversion used in the earlier examples of your post.


Only with good teaching practices can you make the biggest impact in the classroom.

Only with more practice will you become better at it.

These are not the same form as used in (1) above. If you wanted to use the "if conditional" form it would be:

If you have good teaching practices, you can make the biggest impact in the classroom.

If you practice, you will become better at it.

Inverting the "if" portions:

Should you have good teaching practices, you can make the biggest impact in the classroom

Should you practice, you will become better at it

You could theoretically include "can" in the original forms:

If you can practice[...]

But they would be unnecessary.

0

Original Question: But are there usage for other modal verbs in an inverted conditional sentence such as can and will, as opposed to the more commonly used should, had and were?

Answer: No.

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