“Is it …, then …” or “If it is …, then …”?

Is this sentence grammatically correct:

Is it twice as much, (then) we call it 2 G.

with or without the “then“?

In a comment thread on another SE site I was corrected on a detail as a grammatical error. The sentence should rather be:

If it is twice as much, (then) we call it 2 G.

The point apparently is that starting a sentence with “Is” (or “Are“) requires a question mark at the end – which I don’t have, since the sentence answers itself.

I am not native English but was very surprised by this correction. I tend to use that structure often to shorten a sentence as much as possible.

So, I’d like a second view on this from the English SE site to be 100 % convinced. Is the sentence structure “Is it …, then …” incorrect and should rather be “If it is …, then …“?

Answer

Your first clause is using inversion without the word if. You can only do that to form conditionals if you use subjunctive inversion, which you are not doing here.

  1. *Is it twice as much, (then) we call it 2 G. [wrong]
  2. If it is twice as much, (then) we call it 2 G. [right]
  3. If it were twice as much, (then) we would call it 2 G. [also right]
  4. Were it twice as much, (then) we would call it 2 G. [also right]

Only the last version there permits you to forgo the if by virtue of using subjunctive inversion.

There are many other ways to form conditionals, but what you have written is not one of them.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Steeven , Answer Author : tchrist

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