We must stop, even if briefly.

I suppose this is equivalent to even if it is/be briefly?

But what does "it" stand for? The act of stopping? But a noun cannot be connected to the adverb "briefly" like that, right? I suppose we could assume this is a passive construction where "done" is deleted, but I don't really think that's correct.

  • The thing is that there is an ellipsis not only of the noun, but also of the verb. Both are the same in the main clause as in the subordinate one: 'We must stop, even if we must stop briefly'.
    – mama
    Jan 31 '19 at 23:01
  • This type of ellipsis is called stripping.
    – mama
    Jan 31 '19 at 23:12

This sentence

We must stop, even if briefly.

is a subordination by means of the subordinating conjunction 'even if'.

The subordinate clause 'even if briefly' means in this sentence 'even if [we must stop] briefly', where the part in brackets is stripped to avoid repetition and because it can be inferred.

In the non-stripped sentence you can see the verb on which the adverb acts.

We must stop, even if we must stop briefly.


even if OED

(c) Introducing a conditional or concessive clause. even if —_ : despite the possibility that ——; no matter whether ——. even though ——: despite the fact that ——.

Your definition introduces the 'it is'. The conditional clause even if does not require such.

As in:

  • Justice must be done even if the sky falls.
  • Truth will out, even if buried in a golden coffin.
  • Even if someone breaks your heart, there is always someone willing to mend it.

and the grammatically correct:

  • We must stop, even if briefly.
  • Fair enough, but are you implying that the version with "it is" is gramatically incorrect? what about "be it briefly"?
    – user334462
    Feb 1 '19 at 0:13
  • @user334462 It is not incorrect, but one form in which the ellipsis can be completed. By the way, the sentence 'We must stop, even if it is briefly' still has an ellipsis because the main clauses' action on the 'the act of stopping' is not 'is(to be)'. It would be 'done', as in 'We must stop, even if it is done briefly. That is another way in which your mind can complete the ellipsis done in the original sentence. I find doing a simple repetition 'We must stop, even if we must stop briefly' simpler to do, though.
    – mama
    Feb 1 '19 at 0:49

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