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When the first part of a conditional’s if-clause is inverted and the if consequently dropped, is the missing if just a plain old “simple if”, or is it more of an “even if”? For example, in this sentence the bold part is an inverted conditional:

He could not believe that, had the Englishman known how much he was at risk, he would have hazarded his grandson.

I’m trying to figure out the exact meaning of the missing if through the context, but the example sentence consists of just the three pieces with two conjunctions (if-clause, that-clause) and there is no more, so I became confused as to which of these senses was intended:

  1. If the Englishman had known how much he (=Englishman) was at risk, he would have hazarded his grandson.

  2. Even if the Englishman had known how much he (=his grandson) was at risk, he would have hazarded his grandson.

Which of those two possibilities is the right one here, and in general, how is one to make that determination for any given situation like this one?

http://dictionary.reverso.net/english-synonyms/hazard

  • [A] [H]ad the Englishman known how much he was at risk, he would not have gone to Antarctica. This is fine in all aspects. // [B] [H]ad the Englishman known how much he was at risk, he would not have taken his son. Grammatically fine, but unacceptable without context because it is ambiguous. // [C] [H]ad the Englishman known how much he was at risk, his son would not have been allowed to go. Again, ambiguous without context. // – Edwin Ashworth Apr 28 '15 at 8:38
  • [D] [H]ad the Englishman known how much he was at risk, he would not have hazarded his grandson. Ambiguous, but probably the first he refers to the one who was hazarded (the grandson). // [E1] [H]ad the Englishman known how much he was at risk, he would not have hazarded his granddaughter. Unambiguous. // [E2] [H]ad the Englishman known how much she was at risk, he would not have hazarded his granddaughter. Unambiguous. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 28 '15 at 8:38
  • The title is asking about the if, while the body is asking about the he and has nothing at all to do with the if. Please clarify what it is you're after. – RegDwigнt Apr 28 '15 at 8:41
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    What does "to hazard [a person] mean in BrE? Is it something like "to put [a person] in danger"? – Brian Hitchcock Apr 28 '15 at 8:45
  • @RegDwigнt He seems to assume that when the meaning of if changes, the antecedent of he changes automatically. Notice that he bolded Even if in the second version. I'm not sure why he thinks this correspondence exists, though. – Barmar May 4 '15 at 18:53
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There really isn't a definite answer here, but my best input is that even if is commonly used within a sentence that is somehow connected to a previous statement or idea, and the standalone if is used in the case in question where there is no external context.

Examples:

I am never going to win the lottery. Even if I did, I wouldn't know what to do with millions of dollars.

The second sentence plays off of the first sentence, therefore requiring even if.

If I won the lottery, I wouldn't know what to do with millions of dollars.

This is standalone, so even is not needed.

I guess what I'm saying is even is used for association and comparison.

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