4

Can this:

These same officials, however, would have been appalled had they known what was going on behind this façade of self-help.

be rephrased as

These same officials, however, would have been appalled if they had known what was going on behind this façade of self-help.

?

  • I think in second phrase "if" can mean "whether". This may be ambiguous. Am I correct? – user288 Aug 24 '13 at 5:40
  • 1
    There's no ambiguity. The "whether" interpretation of if doesn't arise when the clause expresses a condition, only if the clause is the subject of some question or uncertainty: I'm not sure if they knew what was going on. – StoneyB Aug 25 '13 at 14:51
5

The rephrasing is fine, however, the first leans towards the formal stylistically.

In general, the hypothetical if clauses (if + were/had) can be replaced with the construction "had/were (subject)."

For example:

"If I had known, I would have acted sooner" -> "Had I known, I would have acted sooner" "If he were taller, he could reach the ceiling" -> "Were he taller, he could reach the ceiling"

There are stylistic issues that make some replacements sound awkward and stiff.

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