[This is a lesson excerpt from our online course, for which we invite you to enroll.]

Group 1 is made up of the following terms:

• If
• When
• Where
• All
• The only
• Every
• Any

All the words in this group follow this translation rule:

The ideas introduced by (i.e., immediately following) these words are the sufficient conditions.

Let’s try it

If zombies attack New York City, the real estate market will slip.

Step 1 – Identify the logical operator

Here, it’s “If.”

Step 2 – Identify the two main concepts (or groups, categories, events or ideas)

Here, it’s the two events “zombies attack NYC” and “real estate market will slip.”

Step 3 – Assign symbols to the two main concepts

Here, “Z” for “zombies attack NYC” and “RES” for “real estate market will slip.”

Step 4 – Apply the translation rule

Here, the ideas introduced by these words are the sufficient conditions.

Z –> RES

Step 5 – Find the contrapositive

/RES –> /Z

Step 6 – Translate back to English

If the real estate market doesn’t slip, then zombies are not attacking NYC.

All done!

You see why this is called a “mechanism?” Because it’s mechanistic! You don’t really have to think very much about these sentences. It’s almost like a computer algorithm. You put in the data and it puts out the results. The computer doesn’t know what it’s doing. It’s simply following instructions. That’s what you should do for now. You have to be fast at this, really fast.

There’s an advantage to using a mechanism. It helps to elucidate the meaning of certain opaque sentences. A sentence using the “If” construct, or really any of the constructions in Group 1, probably doesn’t need elucidation no matter how complicated the ideas may be. But a less clear construct, like “unless” (that’s Group 3) when coupled with more complicated ideas may spell trouble. But as long as you coldly follow the mechanism you’ll be in the clear.

All the King's men swore an oath of allegiance.
Kms
/s/Km
All beavers love to eat maple trees.
bl
/l/b
lr
/r/l
Your burrito will thaw if you leave it on the counter.
lt
/t/l
You will become a magician if you drink coffee.
dm
/m/d
Where there's beer, there's fun.
bf
/f/b
Whenever it rains, it pours.
rp
/p/r
ca
/a/c
If you study, you will beat the LSAT.
sb
/b/s
You will run like Tash Narrado if there is a bear behind you.
br
/r/b
The only monkeys are the ones that live in trees.
mlt
/lt/m
The sun will rise, if you pay your taxes.
ps
/s/p