2

It's not a problem to rely on a powerful weapon. If you can find one, that is.

I don't get that "that is". Could somebody please explain it?

2

This is a very common expression in English that can mean all of the following: that is to say (that is is really just the short form of that is to say), in other words, or more exactly, or even of course. The Collins English Dictionary, the link to which I provided above, defines it as follows:

You use that is to say or that's to say to indicate that you are about to express the same idea more clearly or precisely.

So, we could rewrite your example like this:

It's not a problem to rely on a powerful weapon. If you can find one, of course.

It's not a problem to rely on a powerful weapon. That is to say, if you can find one.

Hopefully, things make more sense to you now. Again, this is an expression and as such it should be learned as a single unit.

  • In this case, though, I don’t think “If you can find one” is “expressing the same idea more clearly”. It’s more like an elaboration upon the previous thought. A good paraphrase might be: "It's not a problem to rely on a powerful weapon. But, of course, first you have to find one.” I guess what I’m pointing out is that there is a difference between “in other words” and “or more exactly”; in this case, the phrase is being used to mean “or more exactly” (or “more precisely,” that is). – J.R. Feb 25 '18 at 12:30
  • 3
    @J.R.: I'd say that in OP's exact context, that is is actually a form of "intensifier" - emphasizing preceding IF (by implication, the writer thinks it might be difficult or impossible to find a "powerful weapon"). – FumbleFingers Feb 25 '18 at 15:35
0

In grammar, there's what is called "Ellipsis". It simply means, the deletion of parts of a sentence. For instance, "They said Richard is good but I don't think he is." Here, the word "good" has been deleted towards the end of the sentence. Also, we have "Substitution" which is the replacement on one part of a sentence with another. Ellipsis deletes while substitition replaces. An example of substitution is when you say "The man is kind. He is kind". "The man has been substituted with "He" in that sentence. That's the same thing happening here. The sentence says "It's not a problem to rely on a powerful weapon. If you can find one, that is. The complete sentence could have been "It's not a problem to rely on a powerful weapon if you can find a weapon that is powerful" which means it's no big deal to use a powerful weapon if you have one. In the original sentence, there are instances of Ellipsis and Substitution. "One" replaces a weapon and "powerful" is deleted. But the sentence made a full sense when the deleted parts were added.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.