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I'm actually curious as we've had a little debate online about whether this usage is logically correct. I am aware that gramatically this sentence is fine, however, due to the negation value of "Did I say", making "even if it was offered" at least redundant, and perhaps even illogical in my opinion.

The reasoning for that is "Did I say" negates the following statement, while "even if it was offered" strengthens the "I would take the job" part.

It'd be a different matter should the order be "if it was even offered", because that would actually serve as a negation to "I would take the job", strengthening the "Did I say" part.

At this point I'm not even curious who was right, but rather whether my reasoning is right. Thank you for your time. :)

  • Logically it seems a little curious as you wouldn't be able to take the job if it wasn't offered. – KillingTime Apr 29 '19 at 16:06
  • Did I say negates nothing at all. It's a legitimate form of question. The only potential issue with your sentence is the use of even. Without that word, it's perfectly understandable. With the word, it somehow implies that you could take the job if it wasn't offered—which makes no sense. Forget the did I say part. I would take the job even if it was offered isn't understandable. Either remove even or change would to wouldn't. But did I say is fine. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Apr 30 '19 at 5:11
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It's fine.

Here's what (I think) you meant:

  1. "I did not say I would take the job, even if it were offered."

That's also logically fine. None of the clauses contradict each other. Generally, you cannot take a job until you've been offered it, so "even if it were offered" adds the useful information that your decision to take the job or not doesn't matter at this point in time.

You have correctly noticed the "negation" of the words you actually said ("Did I say" -> "I did not say"), but you came up with the wrong reason for it - largely because there isn't really a reason for it at all! The only reason why this question means the opposite of its words is because we English speakers have decided it does.

Rhetorical "say" questions

Questions of the form "Did I say X?" are often rhetorical.

  1. Did I say I was there? - I was not there.
  2. Didn't I tell you we'd win? -I told you we would win.

I should note that often it's only the tone of voice used by the speaker that makes this kind of question rhetorical: if you re-read Number 1 in a puzzled tone of voice, it becomes a normal question again.

This negation is not due to grammar - it's a technique of rhetoric: Make your point by first stating its opposite, then rejecting that opposite: "Did I flee from Rome? No, I did not!" In casual speech, the "rejection" part is usually left out, leaving just the rhetorical question alone, but we're so used to hearing it, we can mentally fill in the rest.

The pattern is simple:

  • Did I say I was there? = No, I did not say I was there!
  • Did I say I would take the job, even if it were offered? = No, I did not say I would take the job, even if it were offered!

So, knowing that your original question is rhetorical, it can be converted into a more direct assertion using the same rule:

  • Rhetorical question: Did I say I would take the job, even if it were offered?
  • Assertion: I did not say I would take the job, even if it were offered

Sub-clauses

Your next pitfall was in identifying what part of the sentence is acting on what other parts.

"Even if it were offered" and "I would take the job" are sub-clauses. The main clause of the sentence is "I did not say".

Because the main clause is "I did not say", it is this clause, and not "I would take the job", which is intensified by "Even if...". It's also not a redundant clause: no other part of the sentence states that you haven't received an offer.

P.S. Commas are important

There are two readings of your sentence, depending on where the comma sits:

  1. "I did not say {I would take the job}, {even if it were offered}."
  2. "I did not say {I would take the job {even if it were offered}}."

Here, we're lucky because only Number 1 makes sense. (Number 2 is illogical because the job being offered is a prerequisite for you taking it. It would be like saying "I would eat that cake even if I was able to eat cake"). In other cases, the reading can be more ambigious, and that's where the commas come in.

P.P.S. "were", not "was"

Strictly speaking, the original question is grammatically incorrect. Your "if" is an example of what's called the Second conditional form. The clause "the job [to be] offered" is referring to an action which may or may not occur, so the correct form of the verb here is "were", not "was". It's "even if the job were offered". This mistake is very common in speech, and is almost acceptable in some spoken English dialects, but not in written English.

  • Thank you very much for your answer, I know I was missing something and that was the comma, which was missing in the original sentence. – Alron Apr 29 '19 at 17:12
  • For me the original sentence Did I say I would take the job even if it was offered is much better than Did I say I would take the job, even if it were offered. I don't think sentence 2 is like I would eat that cake even if I was able to eat cake - as pointed out elsewhere in the answer, the rhetorical question has a negating function, so the analogy would be with wouldn't eat that cake even if I was able to eat cake, which may be clumsy but is not illogical. – user339660 Apr 29 '19 at 20:05
  • There's no grammatical negation happening, so none of the sub-clauses are negated. Also, Rhetorical questions do not always negate their meaning - consider "Can we do it?". – KrisW Apr 30 '19 at 8:00
  • Also, sentence 2 is as I've parsed it. Without the comma to distance the "even..." sub-clause, the subject of "to say" becomes the phrase "I would take the job even if it were offered" - that's nonsense whether you invert it or not (the negated phrase is "I would not take the job even if it were not offered" - note the two nots). – KrisW Apr 30 '19 at 8:09
  • I don't see that way. If you want to analyse how the bit that follows did I say is functioning in the original sentence, you have to take the did I say into account. It can be / often is a pragmatic negation, so if you are going to read it that way you can get rid of it and negate the part that follows. My issue with sentence 2 in the answer is that it gets rid of did I say without putting in a negation to do the same work within what follows. I'm not sure it's such a good idea to analyse the complement of did I say as if it were a standalone phrase anyway... – user339660 Apr 30 '19 at 8:18
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An infallible sign for logicality is the existence of a valid real world solution to the problem. In your case, it is conceivable that your subject had the power to seize a job one way or another. She may own the company at which she interviewed incognito for a position that she already decided she will occupy herself. Now, for whatever malicious reason she may prefer to seize that position against her colleagues will, but she may also settle to take the job based on an offer by her unaware and unsuspecting underlings.

No logic broken.

And since the problem is logical, it is also logical to wonder -- Did I say...? -- whether the problem was raised.

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