1. Give me blood and I will give you freedom.
  2. Be industrious and you will succeed in life.

I am reading a grammar book in which the clause Give me blood in the first sentence is classified as a sub-ordinate(adverbial) clause. The reason given is that this clause implies a condition. If that be the case, the first sentence has to be a complex sentence(not explicitly mentioned in the book) .

But in the same book, the second sentence is classified as a compound sentence. This implies that the clause Be industrious has to be a co-ordinate clause; this to me, is contradictory to the reasoning made for the first sentence.

Is the book correctly classifying these two sentences? Both these sentences and both the aforementioned clauses seem similar to me. Are there any subtle differences between them I am unaware of?


2 Answers 2


[1] Give me blood and I will give you freedom.

[2] Be industrious and you will succeed in life.

Constructions like these do not have the form or literal meaning of conditionals, but they serve indirectly to convey a conditional meaning. The first clause in each example is not an adjunct (your adverbial), but a main clause and thus these are compound sentences.

In [1] there is an and coordination where the first coordinate is an imperative; it is not taken as a directive to give me blood, however, but as a conditional promise, cf. if you give me blood I will give you freedom.

In [2] the first clause is syntactically imperative, but like [1] it is pragmatically equivalent to an if phrase. Again there is an and-coordination, and the imperative is not taken as a directive but expresses a conditional assertion that being industrious will result in success in life, cf If you are industrious you will succeed in life


I agree that this looks like an inconsistency.

No matter how you want to classify the sentences, they have the same grammatical structure.

Imperative clauses:

  • Give me blood.
  • Be industrious.

Independent clauses:

  • I will give you freedom.
  • You will succeed in life.

You can assume that the first clauses are implied conditionals, and therefore subordinate, but there's no reason to assume that only one of them behaves that way.

The only actual difference I can see, which doesn't change the essential analysis, is that to make the second version conditional you would also likely change the conjugation of its verb:

  • If you give me blood and, then I will give you freedom.
  • If you be are industrious and, then you will succeed at life.

Note that if you be industrious is actually grammatical, so it doesn't really have to be changed. However, that type of language isn't what most people would use in modern English.

Note, too, that once they become (or are assumed to be) conditional, they are no longer imperative.

But since both sentences have to have changes made to them anyway in order to have a conditional explicitly expressed, I don't see why changing a verb conjugation in the second sentence should make a difference.

If you're assuming an implied conditional in the one, you can also assume an implied conditional in the other.

It might be possible to interpret each sentence in two different ways (even if one of the interpretations is wrong), and it could be they are interpreting one in one way and the other in the other way. But, if so, they have not stated that.

To give only one interpretation to the first sentence and a different interpretation to the other sentence is either inconsistent or misleading.

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