If I said, "I will run, not if it is snowing, if I my shoes are comfortable."

Does the "if my shoes are comfortable" modify the "I will run" clause?

I agree the sentence would be clearer with the addition of "and" in place of the comma. However, without the "and" is it still clear that the "if my shoes are comfortable" clause modifies the "I will run" clause?


The sentence is ungrammatical and meaningless

I would assume that the middle part is some kind of parenthetical phrase giving some extra but unnecessary information and is probably understood not to mean "if" in the formal logical meaning but is an error for "not because". But infering this as an error is difficult because usually I would be guided by common sense to understand the meaning. Your sentence has no common sense.

The form "not if" should be used with negative main clauses:

I will not go to school today, not if the Principal himself tells me to.

Logically the "if" part here adds no meaning, since "I will not go to school today" logically means "under any condition". Specifying a condition like this means "If the principal tells me to then I will not go to school & If the Principal does not tell me to, I will not go to school". So logically it adds not meaning and is of rhetorical use only.

Your sentence, therefore, is ungrammatical. As the meaning is so odd I can't guess the intended meaning pragmatically. As a result, the sentence is meaningless.

A grammatical sentence could be

I will go to school today, not because it is snowing, but because my cat is awake.

Here the final clause modifies the first, and the middle one is clearly parenthetical.


"I will run, not if it is snowing, if my shoes are comfortable."

is it still clear that the "if my shoes are comfortable" clause modifies the "I will run" clause?

No it is not clear

This is because It is not a sentence in grammatical terms. It is a loosely assembled collection of clauses. You must use connecting words in order for us to know the logical meaning and the precedence of the clauses.


I will run, but not if it is snowing, unless my shoes are comfortable.

I will run, if it is not snowing and my shoes are comfortable.

As you can se, the above sentences have different meanings.


English is not like some computer languages where there is an implicit ordering according to which clause is met first. An English sentence with multiple conditions only makes sense if connectives such as and, but, or, unless, etc. are used.

  • I see l, but does the “not if it is snowing” kind of serve as a an aside so that when we take it out, the sentence becomes -I will run if my shoes are comfortable. Therefore, it is implied that the “shoes” condition is modifying the main clause. I agree conjunctions would clarify them, however, the commas may not make them necessary. Mar 8 at 14:42
  • No. This does not work. In your original version, nothing implies anything. The phrase makes no sense. You can't change a language just because you think something should mean what you want it to mean. No-one will understand. Perhaps this is possible in other languages but it is not possible in English. You can ask as many times as you want but it will still be wrong. Mar 8 at 15:19

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