Next time, if you chance to visit Tainan, home to Tu Hsiao Yuel, be sure to give it a try.

My first question is why the sentence is "if you chance to..." rather than "if you have a chance to...". I think there are no "verb" in the former sentence.

My second question : Is the sentence ",home to" equal to ",which is home to"?


The usage if you chance to is at the very least "dated" - bordering on "archaic", imho1. We'd nearly always use happen today...

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OP is misparsing the usage if he supposes it's a cut-down version of if you have a chance to [do something]. The word chance here is essentially a verb, not a noun. Consider this chart including auxiliary should, with exactly the same meaning...

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That's to say to chance to [do X] = to happen to do X (in contexts where "doing X" is thought to be an unlikely future action, but it might happen / come to pass). Thus, if you chance to visit Tainan is equivalent to saying if you visit Tainan, but with the added implication that the speaker doesn't think it's very likely that you will in fact do so (and usually with the additional implication that it would be fortuitous if you did in fact visit).

The "compound noun phrase" Tainan, home to Tu Hsiao Yuel is a reduced version of Tainan, which is home to Tu Hsiao Yuel - where the "base" noun is Tainan, modified by the relative clause [which is] home to Tu Hsiao Yuel, within which which is is effectively optional.

1 Perhaps "archaic" is a bit strong (see @MichaelHarvey's comment below). But my basic point still stands - it might be worth (advanced) learners being aware that the usage does still occur "naturally" with some native speakers, but it's not really something you'd normally want to incorporate into your own speech patterns as a non-native speaker.

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  • "If you chance to [do something]" has not entirely fallen out of use; I and the people I mix with use it reasonably often, to mean "if you should happen to do something", for example "If you chance to see Joe Smith in the next few days, ask him if his car is still for sale". – Michael Harvey Dec 13 '18 at 16:31
  • @MichaelHarvey: Well, I'm certainly not going to argue with you if you say you often hear people saying it. But I can't help noticing that you only claim that other people use it. What about you yourself? Do you really use chance "naturally" in such contexts? I'd have to say that both my own gut feel and those two charts are pretty strong evidence that it's a dying/dead usage (especially in speech, where emerging usage trends are always underrepresented in charts of written instances). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 13 '18 at 16:37
  • ...it's really a matter of opinion, but personally I wouldn't advise learners to reproduce usages like this in their own speech (or indeed writing, no matter how "formal, poetic" they might wish to sound). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 13 '18 at 16:39
  • My comment says "I and the people I mix with use it reasonably often", my milieu is mainly lower and middle middle-class people, etc, aged between about 20 and 80, all over England, Scotland, and Wales. I promise you it is by no means archaic or outlandish. With all due respect, gut feelings, backed up by Google N-grams or not, are by no means reliable guides to usage. In any case, N-grams are obtained by indexing books. I am talking about speech mainly. – Michael Harvey Dec 13 '18 at 16:42
  • @MichaelHarvey, this may simply be a dialectical divide. I can't recall ever hearing, in the various regions of the United States I've lived, anyone say "if you chance to ___." At least not unironically. I would think it's reasonable to assume that this usage of "chance" is quite unusual in American English. Perhaps it's still current in British English. – Juhasz Dec 13 '18 at 16:49

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