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  1. enydia's Avatar

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    #1

    if anything

    Hi, teachers.

    What does the expression 'if anything' mean?

    I googled it and found this page, but I'm even more confused after reading the explanation.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: if anything

    Quote Originally Posted by enydia View Post
    Hi, teachers.

    What does the expression 'if anything' mean?

    I googled it and found this page, but I'm even more confused after reading the explanation.
    The best definition I can come up with is "if anything is true, it's this......." It usually serves to then state the opposite of the original statement.

    She doesn't need to lose weight. If anything, she needs to gain a few pounds.

    The bread isn't fresh. If anything, it's actually a bit stale.

    The president isn't opposed to war. If anything, he's encouraging it.

  3. enydia's Avatar

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    #3

    Re: if anything

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    The best definition I can come up with is "if anything is true, it's this......." It usually serves to then state the opposite of the original statement.

    She doesn't need to lose weight. If anything, she needs to gain a few pounds.

    The bread isn't fresh. If anything, it's actually a bit stale.

    The president isn't opposed to war. If anything, he's encouraging it.
    Is it formal or informal?

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: if anything

    Quote Originally Posted by enydia View Post
    Is it formal or informal?
    To be honest, it's neither! It's just a phrase.

  5. enydia's Avatar

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    #5

    Re: if anything

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    The best definition I can come up with is "if anything is true, it's this......." It usually serves to then state the opposite of the original statement.

    She doesn't need to lose weight. If anything, she needs to gain a few pounds.

    The bread isn't fresh. If anything, it's actually a bit stale.

    The president isn't opposed to war. If anything, he's encouraging it.
    It seems to be, according to the given example sentences, an emphasis more than an opposite, doesn't it?
    Last edited by enydia; 27-Apr-2010 at 14:24.

  6. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: if anything

    Quote Originally Posted by enydia View Post
    It seems to be, according to the given example sentences, an emphasis more than an opposite, does it?
    In all 3 of my examples, the suggested "truth" is the opposite of the verb/adjective used in the original statement (ignoring the negative part):

    lose weight vs gain weight
    fresh vs stale
    opposed to vs encouraging

    Yes, the actual "if anything" part could be said to be used for emphasis, as it would be perfectly possible to say:

    She thinks she needs to lose weight. I think she needs to gain weight.

    You are still expressing a contrary opinion to the original, but it's not as emphatic.

  7. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: if anything

    Quote Originally Posted by enydia View Post
    It seems to be, according to the given example sentences, an emphasis more than an opposite, does it?
    It doesn't always mean that.
    We've accomplished very little today, if anything.
    (If we accomplished anything today, it wasn't much. It's possible that we accomplished nothing.)

    What, if anything, did you do today? (Did you do anything today? If so, what?)
    I haven't achieved much, if anything, during my life so far. (If I have achieved anything in my life so far, it isn't much.)

  8. enydia's Avatar

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    #8

    Re: if anything

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    It doesn't always mean that.
    We've accomplished very little today, if anything.
    (If we accomplished anything today, it wasn't much. It's possible that we accomplished nothing.)

    What, if anything, did you do today? (Did you do anything today? If so, what?)
    I haven't achieved much, if anything, during my life so far. (If I have achieved anything in my life so far, it isn't much.)
    Long time no see, Teacher Yoda.


    • Join Date: May 2010
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    #9

    Re: if anything

    Hello,

    I found this topic while trying to find the grammatical status of the "if anything" phrase. I'm writing a paper on the similar constructions (if any, if anything, if at all, if ever and so on). I wonder if anyone knows, whether these constructions can be considered elliptical or not.

    Thanks in advance for your attention!

  9. Raymott's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: if anything

    Quote Originally Posted by enydia View Post
    Long time no see, Teacher Yoda.
    Hi. I've been here all along. Maybe our paths just didn't cross.

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