I was reading the Admission Information for Postgraduate Programs at Beihang University when, in the Required Documents section, I found:

  1. TOEFL, IELTS or HSK (Chinese Proficiency Test) test results, or English and Chinese proficiency certificates, if holding.

What's the meaning of this? I'm guessing I should provide the certificates only if I have those.

Could someone please confirm?


Yes, the 'if' clause has been placed at the end of the sentence, rather than at the start. A more familiar order of words would be something like:

  • If you hold English and Chinese proficiency certificates, then those documents are required.

In the document that your question links to, #7 is one element of a list of "Required Documents". The entries in the list are (sets of) nouns and noun phrases. The inverted word order allows entry #7 to start with the relevant nouns and noun phrases.

Note that each entry in the list is worded as a bullet point, not a complete sentence in the traditional sense. The phrase "if holding" doesn't make #7 grammatically correct as a complete sentence, but it does act as a qualifier for the noun phrase at its head. Note also that even as a qualifier for the noun phrase, the continuous tense sounds a little awkward to me. I'd have preferred the simple past tense: "..., if held", or "..., if attained".

  • I was thinking that the word "Required" in the beginning didn't allow something to be optional in the list. Shouldn't "Desirable Documents" be better? – KcFnMi Mar 1 '17 at 1:35
  • @KcFnMi As a matter of English (as opposed to bureaucracy or policy), it's not optional in the usual sense of "your choice". If you have it, it's on the list; if you don't, it's not - as worded, you don't have a choice in the matter. – Lawrence Mar 1 '17 at 2:53

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