Re: Conditional sentences

Bruce Terry (
Tue, 07 May 1996 14:06:19 CST

On Tue, 07 May 96, A. Brent Hudson wrote:

>Perhaps someone can clear this up for me. I have always followed Brooks &
>Winbery's classification of conditional sentences; however, I have
>encountered a difficulty and need some help. Smyth notes that a simple
>condition (protasis=EI + pres. or pf. ind. / apodosis = pres. or pf. ind. or
>equivalent) states a "supposition with no implication as to its reality or
>probability." This is easy enough; however, I thought this "simple
>condition" fell under the general rubric of a "first class" condition which
>B&W defines as assuming the reality of the protatic condition. Smyth notes
>that the condition may be real or impossible; it doesn't matter since the
>point is the connection between protasis and apodosis rather than the
>reality or unreality of the condition (2298b) The passage I am working on is
>Jn 15:18. According to B&W this is a "first class condition." According to
>Smyth, it is a "simple condition." My original concern was simply what
>difference GINWSKETE as either indic. or imptv would make to the condition.
>Now, I am just confused.
>Simply put, Is Jn 15.18 a simple condition (thus real or unreal = contextual
>) or first class condition (action assumed to be real)?

I think the confusion here is due to the fact that there are competing systems
of description of conditional sentences. One of the areas of disagreement is
about whether the first class conditional sentence implies reality like the
second class implies unreality (irrealis). From my own study in 1 Corinthians
I have come to the conclusion that it is helpful to adopt the Prague school
concept of markedness and say that the first class conditional sentence is
semantically unmarked. Since the other classes are marked (2nd=unreality;
3rd=hypothetical; 4th=potential [?]) for something other than reality, the
Greek speaker who wished to express reality had to use the first class
conditional sentence; but since the first class is unmarked, it does not in
itself imply reality. Occasionally the first class implies unreality or a
hypothetical condition as well.

Bruce Terry E-MAIL:
Box 8426, ACU Station Phone: 915/674-3759
Abilene, Texas 79699 Fax: 915/674-3769