Thursday September 29, 2011
Using all but
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
By FADZILAH AMIN
I WOULD like to know how to use the phrase “all but”, for example, “I’m all but against bullying.”
Does it mean that I do not support bullying or do I actually support bullying? – Hakim
“All but” means 1) almost or very nearly and 2) all except.
When you say “I’m all but against bullying.”, it means that you are almost against bullying, but not totally so.
Here are some examples of “all but” with meaning 1):
“These two are all but married.”, meaning that their wedding day is not far off.
“The exams were all but over when he fell ill and had to miss the last paper.” This means that he fell ill towards the very end of the exam period.
Here are some examples of “all but” with meaning 2):
“All but one of her classmates got an A in Modern Maths.” This means that only one of her classmates didn’t get an A in the subject.
“The class bully intimidated all but me.” This means that I was the only person in the class who was not frightened of the class bully.
Although and though
“Although” and “though” are conjunctions but I don’t know which one to choose when I practise my English.
1. Although the servant washed the dishes and swept the floor, she did not wipe the stove.
2. The prizes included a refrigerator and a television set. No one won, although many tried.
3. Although he had prepared the speech, he did not tell anyone about it.
4. He ate the rice and curry, but he did not touch the vegetables though he used to like them very much. – MOE Reader
1, 2, 3 & 4. You can use either “though” or “although” in all these sentences. “Although” is more formal and used more in writing, and “though” is generally less formal and used more in speech. However, there are certain structures in which only “though” can be used, e.g.
“Tired though I was, I still continued working in order to meet the deadline.”
“Poor though they were, they were never short of food.”
If you want to use “although” to mean the same things, you have to change the beginning of the sentences to:
“Although I was tired ...” and “Although they were poor ...”
“Though” can also be used as an adverb, especially at the end of a sentence, to lessen the effect of the previous statement, e.g.
“She’s very lucky to get a scholarship. She doesn’t appreciate it, though.”
“Our team won the match. The other side played very well, though.”
I would like to seek your advice on how to use the pronoun “that”. Here are some examples:
1. Predeterminers are a class of words that come before determiners in a noun group. (“that” in this case refers to “a class of words”)
2. A complete failure of governance, that breeds contempt of law on the part of citizens and government alike, must be avoided at all cost. (“that” in this case refers to “failure of governance”)
Note: The two examples above were taken from MOE (May 2010).
3. The world financial system was pushed to the edge and tax payers were forced into massive bailouts of the banks that rolled the dice with the wealth of fund managers and pension funds.
However, from sentence 3), I noticed that “that” refers to the noun “bank” instead of the noun phrase “bailouts of the banks”.
In view of the above, is sentence 3) properly constructed? Or can “that” be used to refer to part of the noun phrase as above in which case “that” is used to refer to “B” instead of referring to the whole noun phrase “A of B”? – David Tan
Sentence 3) is properly constructed, and in the sentence, “that” refers to the noun phrase “the banks”, which is part of the larger noun phrase “massive bailouts of the banks.” There is no standard rule about what the relative pronoun “that” should refer to in a sentence. We just have to read the sentence carefully to work out from its meaning what “that” refers to.
You might be interested to look at the following sentence, which contains two instances of “that” as a relative pronoun. The first “that” refers to a whole noun phrase, while the second refers only to the last part of a noun phrase:
The Waterfront has undergone a massive upgrading project which includes a new marina with splendid yachts, a new residential complex of apartments that command among the best views in the islands and the restoration of the buildings that have survived the ravages of wars over the centuries. (from heartofmalta.com)
The first “that” refers to “a new residential complex of apartments”, while the second “that” refers only to “the buildings”, not to “the restoration of the buildings”.
Some, much, any
Please explain the use of “some”, “any” and “much” in the following sentences.
1. I haven’t got any rice in the house. Please go out to buy a few kilogrammes from the shop nearby.
2. How much do you know about his plans for further studies abroad? I know only a little about him.
Is plan/plans a countable or uncountable noun?
3. Is this correct: I haven’t any coins in my pocket.
4. Are they any/much rats in your house?
5. There isn’t much/any ink in this bottle. – Chinese Reader
1. In your first sentence, “I haven’t got any rice in the house.”, “any” is correctly used as a determiner with the uncountable noun “rice”, in a negative sentence.
2. “Much” here is used after “how” in “how much”, which begins a wh-question and means “to what extent” in this context. What is asked about is not “his plans ...” as such, but “how much you know about his plans.” So “how much” relates to “do you know” and not to the noun “plans”. We can rephrase the question as: “How much knowledge do you have about his plans for further studies abroad?” Here, “much” is used before the uncountable noun “knowledge”. “Much” is never used immediately before a countable noun like “plan(s)”. “How much”, however, is often used before the auxiliary verb in a question, e.g. in your question “How much do you know about ...?” or “How much has he travelled?”
Your second sentence, “I know only a little about him.”, means “I only have a small amount of information about him.” It would be better to use the negative sentence “I don’t know much about him.”
3. Yes, “any” is correctly used there, with a plural noun in a negative sentence.
4. “Much” should not be used with countable nouns like “rats”. The correct sentence is:
“Are there any rats in your house?” “Any” is the correct word to use with a plural noun in a question.
5. You can use either “much” or “any” before the uncountable noun “ink” in a negative sentence. But the meaning of the sentence would depend on the word you use.
“There isn’t much ink in this bottle.” means there is a small amount of ink in the bottle.
BUT “There isn’t any ink in this bottle.” means there is no ink at all in the bottle.
For more details, I would suggest you consult the following free online dictionaries at: