the meaning of “if”

Discussion in 'English Only' started by stenka25, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. stenka25 Senior Member

    South Korea, Han-gul
    The passage below is from a test paragraph.
    In the sentence with underlined “if,I’m not 100% sure about what is the exact meaning of “if.” At a first glance it seems to mean “evan if,” but I want to ask you of your answer.

    Thanks in advance.,d.dGI&cad=rjt

    What if you're paying attention to one stimulus and another stimulus in the environment requires your notice? For example, what if you were sitting in the library reading a book and someone shouted, "Is that a fire?" Even though you were paying attention to the book, you would perceive the shout. Indeed, if there were absolutely no processing of stimuli that you were ignoring, you would have to periodically make a conscious decision to monitor your environment to see if anything important was happening: Let's see, is anyone shouting "fire"?
  2. Ral.G Senior Member

    The underlined "if" means: "assuming"/"in case".
  3. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    Excellent question, stenka, which I have struggled with. I think that the logic of the word if in "unreal conditional sentences" is this:
    - We know that the condition I am discussing does not exist in the world (we do process stimuli that we are ignoring).
    - But let us imagine a world which is the same as our world in all aspects except in this aspect that I am discussing.
    - Now, let's stop imagining a world that is the same as our world in all aspects except this. Let us instead think about what other things would necessarily change as a result of that alteration of that particular aspect?
    I'm sure some philosopher must have put this in better terms than me!
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  4. velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    It just means "if", not "even if". He states what happens in real life, which proves that at some level we are paying attention to external stimuli. Then he goes on to make a hypothesis about what would happen "if" there were no processing of external stimuli going on.
  5. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    'If' is the conjunction which introduces a conditional clause (one that presents a certain condition).
    The underlined 'if' is a regular example. It means 'under the condition that'.
  6. stenka25 Senior Member

    South Korea, Han-gul
    Thanks, Ral.G.
    Thanks, se16teddy.
    Thanks, velisarius.
    Thanks, wandle.

    Thanks a lot.

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