Common Words Used to Join “If….Then” Statements

If you are a squirrel, then you eat nuts, S –> N

I’m going to write the above sentence in many different ways. Take note of any which seem less obvious, and invent some sentences of your own to practice with. All of these forms will appear on the LSAT.

  • All Squirrels Eat Nuts
  • Anything which does not eat nuts is not a squirrel
  • The Squirrel, a common forest animal, is invariably a nut eating organism (scientific fluff)
  • You are a squirrel only if you eat nuts
  • Any squirrel will consume nuts at some point during the year
  • No squirrel does not eat nuts
  • Squirrels inevitably eat nuts
  • Nuts are an essential part of a squirrel’s diet
  • Nuts are eaten by many creatures, including squirrels*
  • Since that creature is a squirrel, it must eat nuts
  • No squirrel goes without eating nuts
  • The metabolic function of a squirrels requires nuts to ensure survival
  • In order to be considered a squirrel, an animal must eat nuts
  • Animals which eschew eating nuts are not squirrels

This is one of the reasons diagramming is so important. All of those words can be expressed as S –> N.  Much simpler.

Next:  When To Diagram

* If you’re paying close attention, you’ll notice this one doesn’t specify that every single squirrel eats nuts. Keep an eye out for distinctions like this. Sometimes they matter, sometimes they don’t. It depends on the rest of the argument. If we were talking about whether squirrels could survive in a habitat without nuts, this distinction could be crucial.

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One thought on “Common Words Used to Join “If….Then” Statements

  1. “No squirrel does not eat nuts.” I can intuit this double negative is the contrapositive (~N –> ~S) rather than the mistaken negation (~S –> ~N) but cannot articulate why – could you explain?

    For example:
    “ALL squirrels eat nuts” becomes S –> N, then why doesn’t
    “NO squirrels eat nuts” become ~S –> N (instead of correctly N –> ~S)?

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