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Consider the sentence I created:

He always challenged himself if the war is worth the price he pays.

Is that challenged himself if part an idiomatic and well-written English?

Any suggestion will be appreciated.

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    To "challenge himself if" is not idiomatic. Reflexive verb challenge is not complemented by an if-clause, as ask is. It can be complemented by an infinitival clause: to challenge oneself to {VERB} .... – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 26 '17 at 17:39
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    He always asks himself if the war is worth the price he pays. He always wonders if the war is worth the price he pays. He always challenges himself to come up with a good reason for the war – mplungjan Nov 26 '17 at 18:12
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I would say your example sentence is not idiomatic in that he would not be challenging himself, but "the war", whatever it might be, is challenging (to) him.

One might usually express this as

He always rose to the occasion if the fight was worth it.
He met the challenge, if it was worth it.

Using "war" might be a bit over the top, unless there is additional context and implicit is that a person would not fight if it was not "worth it" (the price to pay).

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I notice two issues with this sentence:

  • As Peter's answer explains, the context of "war" and "price" indicates an external challenge, so it isn't compatible with the phrase "challenged himself". See Peter's answer for other phrases for an external challenge. In contrast, Google shows that the phrase "challenged himself" is widely used with personal challenges, like:

    He challenged himself to climb Mt. Everest

  • The coordination of tenses is incorrect between "challenged...is...pays" (past...present...present). There are several ways to resolve this, such as past...past...past:

    He always met the challenge, if the fight was worth the price he paid.

    or perhaps habitual past...past...future-in-the-past:

    He would always meet the challenge, if the fight was worth the price he would pay.

  • Thanks for the answer. Two points. First: the challenge here is the thoughts in his mind, the questions he asks himself, or reviweing things happend to him, pondering and .... . Second: I used the present tense to imply that that also holds in the time of speaking or it continues to now. – Cardinal Mar 11 '18 at 15:28

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