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Is it possible for with PPs to have a conditional meaning? In other words, can with PPs function as conditional adjuncts? Consider, for instance, the below sentence.

With your permission, I will leave.

The interpretation of this sentence (in the absence of any context to the contrary) is that if I receive your permission, I will leave. Would it be right, therefore, to analyse the with prepositional phrase as being a conditional adjunct? Do any other PPs have conditional meanings?

Thank you.

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  • Do you mean, e.g.: "Considering x as a variable, it is clear that y must equal 10." (I.e., if we considered x as a variable.) Or: "By WNBA standards, she wouldn't be considered tall." (I.e., if we used WNBA standards.) Sep 2, 2022 at 15:14
  • "If P, then Q". I think that's the most basic way of interpreting conditional adjuncts.
    – Eric
    Sep 2, 2022 at 15:34
  • But you can go very broad with that. E.g., "On Mondays I work from home." -> If it is Monday, then I work from home. Sep 2, 2022 at 16:07
  • Good point; I hadn't thought about that. Indeed, now that I think about it, there is a variety of words/expressions that can be used instead of if in conditional structures: supposing, assuming, provided (that), in case, so long as (or as long as), in the event (of/that), etc. Perhaps "If P, then Q" is too simplistic an interpretation. What say you?
    – Eric
    Sep 2, 2022 at 19:47
  • I think that it's fine to define "conditional adjunct" broadly--that's what H&P do--but then the answer to your last question is simply yes, there are many. Sep 2, 2022 at 20:06

2 Answers 2

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This conditional meaning with is listed in some dictionaries, such as M-W, which is probably where you got your example:

if given

  • With your permission, I'll leave.

Also, especially in combination with "right" or "correct" (but also other adjectives with positive connotations), with PPs can be interpreted as conditional adjuncts:

Manchester United have not been so good playing on their home this season but I believe with the right formation, they could win the match. (ng.opera.news)

In fact, with correct instructions, the vast majority of children are just as quick as adults in learning how to put in and take out contact lenses. (VisionDirect)

Another preposition that can allow for conditional interpretation is without:

Without training they can't do their jobs. (CBC News)

You can add to this group of prepositions with possible conditional meaning, some synonyms of with (such as accompanied by, alongside, coupled with etc.) and without (such as devoid of, deprived of, short of etc.). I am sure there are others.

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  • Are there any other dictionaries that record the conditional use of 'with'?
    – Eric
    Sep 4, 2022 at 20:20
  • Collins uses a similar example but expresses the meaning differently: having received: with your permission, he'll go.
    – fev
    Sep 4, 2022 at 20:31
  • Would you consider 'having received' to have a conditional meaning? The example Collins gives certainly suggests so, but I am not sure.
    – Eric
    Sep 5, 2022 at 6:46
  • It probably depends on context and n the intention of each speaker. Of course, With your permission... can be interpreted both temporally and conditionally. We are just looking at possibilities here, not at an actual situation.
    – fev
    Sep 5, 2022 at 7:20
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"With your permission" functions like an adverb referring to the verb "go": "I will go with your permission". Here it's at the start of the sentence (heading) because it's stressed.

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