Is there a term for the use of the imperative as an emphatic conditional?

For example:

Lose an hour in the morning, and you’ll be looking for it the rest of the day.

An instructive borderline case is: “Eat your veggies, and you’ll live a longer, healthier life.”, which can be taken literally, or as an emphatic conditional, thereby showing that the pattern is that the introductory verb is indeed an imperative and not merely a verb in plain form.

  • It's not an imperative! It's just a verb in the plain form :) Oct 7, 2015 at 13:07
  • @Araucaria: Nice try, but no cigar. I’ve edited my question to answer this - admittedly pertinent - objection. Oct 7, 2015 at 15:12
  • Hmm, No, what you've shown is just that this construction and imperatives both take the plain form of the verb. If you want a construction that actually uses an imperative try "Do it now or I'll punch you". To show that yours isn't an imperative try comparing "Do it now and you'll be a friend for life" and "Do it now, and you'll regret it for ever". The first is telling you to do something, the second is telling you NOT to do it. But the grammar of the two sentences is the same. The construction just says A entails B. What encourages you to do it or not to do it is just the context ... Oct 7, 2015 at 16:15
  • ... in other words your personal preference for or distaste for B. The use of the plain form in no way entails that you are being told to do A. (Doesn't mean it's not a nice question though, which I've already upvoted!) Oct 7, 2015 at 16:16
  • You might enjoy JL's paper, which he provided a link to :) Oct 7, 2015 at 16:17

2 Answers 2


Declerck and Reed, Conditionals: A Comprehensive Empirical Analysis, 2001, call these paratactic conditionals. These include conditionals with or.

Stop or I'll shoot.

You can have asyndetic paratactic conditionals with no conjunction:

Sorry, he comes, I go.

You can even have paratactic conditionals of either sort with no verbs:

Your money or your life!
No shirt, no shoes, no service.

D&R cite John Lawler's paper in this section.

  • 1
    @Araucaria Ow. That's an embarassing slip. Oct 8, 2015 at 11:19

It was called a pseudo-imperative by George Lakoff in his dissertation Irregularity in syntax.


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