1

How would the phrase "but only if" be labeled grammatically in the sentence: I will go to the store, but only if you give me money.

4
  • It's not a phrase, not a single constituent. "But" is a coordinator functioning as a 'marker'. "Only" is a focusing adverb modifying the if preposition phrase, thus there are two constituents, as bracketed: [but] [only if you give me money].
    – BillJ
    Jan 24 '18 at 18:36
  • 'only' modifies the subordinator 'if', which introduces the subordinate clause. There is no preposition phrase there.
    – AmI
    Jan 24 '18 at 22:47
  • No, Aml: In modern grammar, conditional "if" is analysed as a preposition, and the scopal focus of "only" is the whole PP "if you give me money". This is simply a case of Q only if P. "If" is a subordinator when it introduces closed interrogative content clauses (indirect questions), as in "he asked me if [I'd chair the meeting]".
    – BillJ
    Jan 25 '18 at 16:52
  • Even the 'basic' Wiktionary gets it right: link
    – BillJ
    Jan 25 '18 at 17:03
2

The ancient and venerable Warriner' English Grammar and Composition identifies if as a subordinating conjunction.

Adding but only narrows the condition described in the subordinate clause, but doesn't change the function of the phrase as a whole.

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