In Kathryn Stockett's The Help one of the main characters Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan speculates about mate's hair:

I wonder, if I pushed the top of her head, would aerosol spray out of her mouth.

Intuitively this sounds just right, but..

Here come my questions:

  1. Why aerosol would is inverted? To avoid using of two "if"?
    I wonder if aerosol would spray out of her mouth, if I pushed the top of her head.

  2. Is it correct?

  3. How to explain this from grammatical point of view?

Kind regards

  • The original phrasing is more humorous than what you suggest. – Hot Licks Jul 13 '18 at 12:52
  • Compare If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me? (highlighted words "inverted" because it's a question) and If I said you had a beautiful body, you would hold it against me (just a statement, so no inversion). – FumbleFingers Jul 13 '18 at 13:23
  • @FumbleFingers Well, yes! I see the difference. What confused me is that the statement is not a question (I mean direct question). I even checked another edition if it's misprint) – Art Zhiltsoff Jul 13 '18 at 13:41
  • Found a thread on this (which @FumbleFingers also commented on) english.stackexchange.com/questions/117698/… – Art Zhiltsoff Jul 13 '18 at 13:55

In the original phrasing, it's posed as a conditional question. In your version, it's presented as speculation. Both are correct, but the original one gives more of a "stream of consciousness" feel, more like you'd internally think it rather than if you were writing a research paper on the subject. Contributing to the humor is the fact that the conjecture about aerosol spraying out of the mouth...the punchline...is saved until the end of the sentence.

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