page 1 of 2

The three most common ways to change a conditional statement are by taking its inverse, its converse, or it contrapositive. In each case, either the hypothesis and the conclusion switch places, or a statement is replaced by its negation.

The inverse of a conditional statement is arrived at by replacing the hypothesis
and the conclusion with their negations. If a statement reads, "The vertex of
an inscribed angle is on a circle", then the inverse of this statement is "The
vertex of an angle that is not an inscribed angle is not on a circle." Both the
hypothesis and the conclusion were negated. If the original statement reads "if
*j*
, then
*k*
", the inverse reads, "if not
*j*
, then not
*k*
."

The truth value of the inverse of a statement is undetermined. That is,
some statements may have the same truth value as their inverse, and some may
not. For example, "A four-sided polygon is a quadrilateral" and its inverse, "A
polygon with greater or less than four sides is not a quadrilateral," are both
true (the truth value of each is T). In the example in the paragraph above
about inscribed angles, however, the original statement and its inverse do not
have the same truth value. The original statement is true, but the inverse is
false: it *is* possible for an angle to have its vertex on a circle and
still not be an inscribed angle.

The converse of a statement is formed by switching the hypothesis and the
conclusion. The converse of "If two lines don't intersect, then they are
parallel" is "If two lines are parallel, then they don't intersect." The
converse of "if
*p*
, then
*q*
" is "if
*q*
, then
*p*
."

The truth value of the converse of a statement is not always the same as the original statement. For example, the converse of "All tigers are mammals" is "All mammals are tigers." This is certainly not true.

The converse of a definition, however, must always be true. If this is not the case, then the definition is not valid. For example, we know the definition of an equilateral triangle well: "if all three sides of a triangle are equal, then the triangle is equilateral." The converse of this definition is true also: "If a triangle is equilateral, then all three of its sides are equal." What if we performed this test on a faulty definition? If we incorrectly stated the definition of a tangent line as: "A tangent line is a line that intersects a circle", the statement would be true. But it's converse, "A line that intersects a circle is a tangent line" is false; the converse could describe a secant line as well as a tangent line. The converse is therefore a very helpful tool in determining the validity of a definition.