The following is an excerpt from RFC 2616: Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1:

§14.13 Content-Length

The Content-Length entity-header field indicates the size of the entity-body, in decimal number of OCTETs, sent to the recipient or, in the case of the HEAD method, the size of the entity-body that would have been sent had the request been a GET.

. And this is my first time seeing this structure of a noun phrase:

the entity-body that would have been sent had the request been a GET

. The meaning would be:

the entity-body that would have been sent if the request had been a GET

, but how come? What has been omitted here? Is it an inversion? What grammatical concept is used here?


This is an example of inversion in conditional clauses.

"If" gets omitted, the auxiliary verb moves to the beginning of the clause.

Had I known that you were coming, I would have cleaned up.

If the verb is a negative ("hadn't"), the "not" particle has to be separated from the auxiliary verb and moved to the side of the main verb.

Had she not helped me I would have been in a lot of trouble. [this example is used in the link above]

An inverted conditional clause sounds more formal and high-flown than a "normal" sequence.

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