Your dental habits are awful, but if you brush and floss every day, you probably won’t get cavities or gum disease.

The conjunction is 'technically' joining a conditional clause followed by a independent clause. "But" is being used as a contrast. Can the other conjunctions be used in this way with the conditional clauses? Any rules etc.

  • No, it's not "a conditional clause followed by an independent clause'. They're both dependent -- this is an if ... then ... construction -- and they are both covered by the but. Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 17:55
  • @JohnLawler Would you contend that in an "if... then..." construction, both clauses are subordinate (or do you define dependent clauses differently than subordinate ones - in which case is your contention that the "then..." clause isn't subordinate but is dependent)? "You probably won't get cavities or gum disease" strikes me as a main clause. Is it the implicit "then" that implies otherwise, from your point of view?
    – rjpond
    Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 15:27
  • 1
    I would say that both clauses are subordinate (or dependent -- same meaning), because they're part of the if ... then construction, making only a conditional assertion. Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 15:53

1 Answer 1


the conjuction "but" joins the first clause to an "if...then.." structure. Both parts of the "if...then..." are covered by the "but".

There is a clear contrast between "Your dental habits are awful", and the conclusion "you won't get cavities".

Other conjunctions can be used similarly:

You like beer, and if you visit Oktoberfest, you can drink a lot of it.

You want to get fit, so if you can afford it, you should hire a personal trainer.

  • This is a good answer. I have no memory of it at all.
    – James K
    Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 20:40

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