# Law School Discussion

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### AuthorTopic: A if, but only if, B  (Read 3459 times)

#### finessll

• Jr. Member
• Posts: 5
##### A if, but only if, B
« on: May 26, 2009, 08:23:03 PM »
the rule  'a if, but only if, b' was recently tested on the games section ... i didn't fully understand the rule, and given the time constraints i didn't have the luxury to stop and think about it, so i took a gamble and assumed that rule implied both 'if a then b' and 'if b then a' ... luckily, i guessed right but i never want to do this on a real LSAT

i know that 'a if, and only if, b' implies 'if a then b' as well as 'if b then a' ... so i understand this relationship ... i just don't get why 'but' in the example above has the same effect as 'and' in this example ... any insights would be helpful

here are my thoughts ... in 'a if, and only if, b' makes sense because it's both 'a if b ... if b then a' and 'a only if b ... if a then b' ... can someone break 'a if, but only if, b' down for me like that? Thanks!

#### gzl

• Full Member
• Posts: 55
##### Re: A if, but only if, B
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2009, 09:07:24 PM »

here are my thoughts ... in 'a if, and only if, b' makes sense because it's both 'a if b ... if b then a' and 'a only if b ... if a then b' ... can someone break 'a if, but only if, b' down for me like that? Thanks!

Think of "but" as just giving the contrapositive of "and". "if not b then not a"

#### finessll

• Jr. Member
• Posts: 5
##### Re: A if, but only if, B
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2009, 09:21:10 PM »
thanks gonzolaw, that's a great tip! it clarifies it a lot more ...

here's a link to what i was discussing what other folks but your tip definitely crystallizes the difference in wording ... http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=73348&p=1655601#p1655601

#### ssilver0210

• Sr. Citizen
• Posts: 212
##### Re: A if, but only if, B
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2009, 12:27:38 AM »
Understand the difference between the following:

A if B.

This means that if B occurs then A will occur.  But it does not mean that if C occurs then A will not occur, or if D occurs then A will not occur, etc.  In other words, it's possible for A to occur even if B does not occur.

A if, but only if, B.

This means that if B occurs then A will occur. In this situation, though, if C were to occur then A would not occur, and if D were to occur then A would not occur, etc. In other words, it is not possible for A to occur if B does not occur.
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#### .5L

• Newbie
• Posts: 3
##### Re: A if, but only if, B
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2009, 04:12:40 AM »
Understand the difference between the following:

A if B.

This means that if B occurs then A will occur.  But it does not mean that if C occurs then A will not occur, or if D occurs then A will not occur, etc.  In other words, it's possible for A to occur even if B does not occur.

A if, but only if, B.

This means that if B occurs then A will occur. In this situation, though, if C were to occur then A would not occur, and if D were to occur then A would not occur, etc. In other words, it is not possible for A to occur if B does not occur.

I think OP was more confused about why "but" and "and" should be read as equivalent.

#### EarlCat

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##### Re: A if, but only if, B
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2009, 12:19:18 AM »
"But" means "and."

#### Julie Fern

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##### Re: A if, but only if, B
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2009, 06:13:52 AM »
how "/thread"?  there more boxes down here!

#### juile20099

• Newbie
• Posts: 3
##### Re: A if, but only if, B
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2009, 07:59:22 AM »
i know that 'a if, and only if, b' implies 'if a then b' as well as 'if b then a' ... so i understand this relationship ... i just don't get why 'but' in the example above has the same effect as 'and' in this example ... any insights would be helpful  here are my thoughts ... in 'a if, and only if, b' makes sense because it's both 'a if b ... if b then a' and 'a only if b ... if a then b' ... can someone break 'a if, but only if, b' down for me like that? Thanks!

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#### Julie Fern

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• hillary clinton say "boo!"
##### Re: A if, but only if, B
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2009, 08:02:57 AM »
told ya.

#### Barnum

• Sr. Citizen
• Posts: 344
##### Re: A if, but only if, B
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2009, 10:09:29 AM »
I think the confusion stems from not understanding the use of the word "but" in the English language.

The word "but" is a conjunction to join two ideas the same way as "and."  Generally, "but" just adds some emphasis to the meaning.  "But" does not introduce a separate or inconsistent concept.

Take, for example, the statement

He is a nice guy AND he loves his mother.

This might be a great guy to date because of those two things combined.

Now take

He is a nice guy, but he doesn't have a job.

Now you might not want to date him.  More importantly you should realize though you still know both facts.  The "but" doesn't create two separate ideas, it simply adds emphasis to the second piece possibly having a different connotation in regards to your decision to go on a date.

This is why there is no real difference between if AND only if vs if BUT only if.

Both "and" and "but" are conjunctions that combine two ideas.