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In The Economist, I encountered this sentence:

Fortunately, no such fate awaits Americans should the federal government shut down on October 1st.

I cannot understand how the two complete clauses — no such fate awaits Americans and *should the federal government shut down on October 1st — made up this sentence.

Is should a conjunction meaning while?

marked as duplicate by tchrist, Community Nov 11 '15 at 18:44

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  • Here should means in the case that, or if. It's used in the (fading) counterfactual / "subjunctive" sense ("subjunctive" in scare-quotes lest my linguistic betters scoff at me for suggesting English has such a thing). – Dan Bron Nov 11 '15 at 17:23
  • No, it is not a conjunction. Conjunction "if" is omitted. "Fortunately, no such fate awaits Americans if the federal government should shut down on October 1st.". You will understand it more easily. It is a subjunctive mood. – user140086 Nov 11 '15 at 17:28
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    @DanBron TMFKAS? The Mood Formerly Known as "Subjunctive"? – deadrat Nov 11 '15 at 17:30
  • @Rathony: There's no need to preserve and relocate the word should. Just drop the "subjunctive" verb form: ...no such fate awaits Americans if the federal government shuts down... (or in BrE if the government do that, since we don't insist on "the government" being singular). – FumbleFingers Nov 11 '15 at 17:32
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    @Rathony Quite right; there are degrees of 'distancing' If it shuts. if it should shut , if it were to shut. – Hugh Nov 11 '15 at 17:36

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