Is the usage of "if" correct here?

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The only way to know you've done the job is if I go in with you.

I guess the sentence describes that only if I go in with you, I can know that you've done the job or not. But is the sentence correct? Can "if" be used like that?

Searene

Posted 2014-01-20T08:15:33.937

Reputation: 2 733

Answers

2

I suspect what is troubling you here is the use of an if clause as a nominal.

[SUBJECT The ... way ] ... [VERB (copula) is ] [COMPLEMENT NP if I go in with you. ]

You are right to be troubled. This usage is not yet accepted in formal English, which requires either a) a “canonical” complement clause (preferably one with an infinitive) or b) an adverbial, reflecting the semantics of way:

a) complement clauses
ok The only way to know you've done the job is to go in with you.
ok The only way to know you've done the job is for me to go in with you.
The only way to know you've done the job is that I go in with you.
The only way to know you've done the job is my going in with you.

b) adverbial: preposition phrase with gerund clause complement
ok The only way to know you've done the job is by going in with you.

However, the if clause used this way is very common in informal English. In fact, there's a corresponding informal use of the if nominal as object of a preposition:

I can’t know if you’ve done the job except if I go in with you.

And note that there is some warrant for it, or at least an analogy, in the entirely acceptable use of if in place of whether to head a free relative nominal:

I can’t know if you’ve done the job.

So it cannot be regarded as a mistake in informal contexts. And it is such a useful construction, simultaneously expressing both means and contingency, that I expect it will become acceptable even in formal contexts within the next generation or so.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2014-01-20T08:15:33.937

Reputation: 176 469

0

Yes, it is correct. 'if' is being used here so as the first person can check whether ( if ) the second person does the job. So that's why 'if' is used.

Here are some examples that you can see how 'if' is being used.

Shevliaskovic

Posted 2014-01-20T08:15:33.937

Reputation: 293

0

The only way to know you've done the job is if I go in with you.

The sentence is correct. If here is the condition that serves the previous clause.

This answers your question. But then...

Do you see something interesting here? It actually emphasizes on whether that person has done the job rather than the status of job i.e. being completed.

The only way to know you've done the job is if I go in with you - If I come with you, then only I see that you are doing the job and not anyone else!

The status of the job (being completed) can be convinced/conveyed in other ways (such as telephone or simply a text) as well. But then here, the job-giver wants to ensure that the job-doer did the job themselves and did not take any assistance!

Maulik V

Posted 2014-01-20T08:15:33.937

Reputation: 66 188

-1

Yes, the sentence is correct. As you see its saying that if the person goes with you then only he can come to know or he can believe that the job is done. So "if" can be used this way also.

GrIsHu

Posted 2014-01-20T08:15:33.937

Reputation: 489

1Grishma, go in with you is absolutely fine! – Maulik V – 2014-01-20T08:38:17.640

@MaulikV How it can be? Can you explain ? – GrIsHu – 2014-01-20T08:39:33.310

Go in with someone refers to to join together with someone else. – Maulik V – 2014-01-20T08:44:01.853

http://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/12530/hindi-speakers-room – Maulik V – 2014-01-20T08:44:32.277

That's okay. I have created the room 'Hindi Speakers' so that we Indians can discuss about the language better. Anytime, we all can go and improve our skills. :) Cheers! – Maulik V – 2014-01-20T08:47:37.993