In this sentence : This trend, were it to be followed, would spell disaster for the country

What does it means and how to use it please ?


Inversion of subject and verb (auxiliary) in a subordinate clause is a literary construction equivalent to "if".


were it to be followed

is a literary way of saying

if it were to be followed

There is no difference in meaning between them.

I also cannot find any difference in meaning between those and

if it were followed

In other contexts the structure "[be] to [verb]" suggests an obligation or compulsion, for example "He is to go straight home after this", but in a conditional ("If it were to..." or "Were it to ...") that meaning doesn't make sense. So I don't know why we use this form, but it is quite normal (in the somewhat formal register being used).

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  • Thanks i understand now ! – T Tea Tie Jan 3 at 13:38

'Were to' can be used as an if/then conditional in the present or future sense.


In this case 'were to' is separated by the subject 'it' (trend) and 'be followed' as it relates to the trend means that it would continue.

'Were it to be followed' means 'if the trend continues'

Here's a rephrasing to clarify the meaning of the sentence;

It would spell disaster for the country if this trend were to continue.

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