This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
The confusion between condition and consideration arises in part from the popular use of a clause beginning with "if" to indicate indiscriminately a condition, an act which is to serve as acceptance of an offer, as consideration therefor, and as performance therefor, in all cases in which the offer calls for acceptance by the performance of a specified act, and such act is the entire consideration for the promise;1 and of using "if" to introduce the clause which really amounts to. a covenant on the one side, which by the terms of the offer is to operate as a consideration for the covenant on the other side.2 As has already been said,3 it is clearly improper to call a covenant a condition, even if such covenant is the sole consideration for the promise and if a breach thereof will amount to a total failure of consideration and to operate as a discharge of the entire contract.4 Whether it is proper to use the term condition of an act which is to serve as acceptance, consideration and performance of an offer which by its terms is to be accepted by doing an act, is not quite so clear. It is true that the parties do not intend any liability to attach until such act is performed.5 On the other hand, up to the time of the performance of such act, no contract exists. There is merely an outstanding offer which may lapse,6 or which may be revoked,7 at any time, at least before the person to whom the offer is made begins performance of the act which is called for by the offer.8 If this is to be called a conditional contract, it ordinarily amounts to calling an unaccepted offer a contract, which of course is a contradiction in terms.9
4 Arkansas. National Annuity Asso. v. McCall, 103 Ark. 201, 48 L. R. A. (N.S.) 418, 146 S. W. 125.
Illinois. Crosse v. Supreme Lodge, 254 III. 80, 45 L. R. A. (N.S.) 162, 98 N. E. 261.
Michigan. Haapa v. Metropolitan L. Ins. Co., 160 Mich. 467, 16 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1165, 114 N. W. 380.
New Jersey. New Jersey Rubber Co. v. Commercial Union Assurance Co., 64 N. J. L. 580, 46 Atl. 777.
Oklahoma. Deming Investment Co. v. Shawnee F. Ins. Co., 16 Okla. 1, 4 L. R. A. (N.S.) 607, 83 Pac. 918; Eminent Household of Columbian Woodmen v. Prater, 24 Okla. 214, 23 L. R. A. (N.S.) 917, 103 Pac. 558.
Oregon. Beard v. Royal Neighbors of America, 53 Or. 102, 19 L. R. A. (N.S.) 708, 99 Pac. 83.
Texas. Supreme Lodge v. Payne, 101 Tex. 449, 15 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1277, 108 S. W. 1160.
5 See Sec. 222 and 2594.
1 See Sec. 153 et seq. and 190 et seq.
If the contract recites a consideration,10 even if it is only a nominal consideration,11 a further statement of the events on the happening of which performance is due, is regarded as a condition or as a definition of the time of performance, and not as an addition to the consideration or as a detailed statement of the "valuable considerations" which are referred to in the nominal consideration.12