The full text I'm trying to understand is the following:

If you decide to split your time between two passions—say, music and psychotherapy—you may find yourself facing a hard, if meaningful, path. You will need to be especially disciplined if you want to keep on top of both goals.

What does "if meaningful" mean in this context. Is it the same as "if anything"?

  • 1
    Try substituting “albeit” for “if”
    – Jim
    Oct 20 at 22:23
  • 1
    Even if it's also meaningful. But probably meaningful. Yet meaningful. The if here does not call into question whether the path would be meaningful or not. Oct 20 at 22:34
  • 1
    although perhaps meaningful.
    – Centaurus
    Oct 20 at 22:55
  • Merriam-Webster gives 2 slightly different meanings for if used this way (#4) "even though : although perhaps".
    – Stuart F
    Oct 21 at 11:37
  • The way that I interpret the construction (into a semantically equivalent expanded form) is thusly: "but (thereby .., necessarily, because I am here affirming it), importantly and perhaps moreover, also [meaningful]",  noting the “if ❲adjective❳”'s separation by commas.
    – 11qq00
    Oct 21 at 16:52

I think the word choice presented is not clear, but I believe "if meaningful" is intended to acknowledge that the difficulty of the task may be justified because the goal may be meaningful to the subject of the statement. Think "starving artist". Using the word "if", I suppose "even if meaningful" would work. I would choose "even though".

"If you decide to split your time between two passions — say music and psychotherapy — you may find yourself facing a hard, even though meaningful, path.


I think if here mean the following:

It would be hard for it to be meaningful. The if here makes it seem as if it is asking: "Is it even meaningful?". In This situation, I would say that the author intended the question to be negative, from the context of how else they have written the quote (it is a negative quote, trying to persuade you not to go and study two different subjects).

Hope this helps!

  • 2
    That isn't the meaning. The path chosen will be hard, but it will be meaningful (well worth the effort). Oct 21 at 8:25
  • 2
    I definitely read the statement as affirming the positivity and sense of self worth that would come from doing two things well. It would be hard, but you will feel good.
    – Andy M
    Oct 21 at 8:59

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