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  1. meliss's Avatar
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      • Native Language:
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    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 248
    #1

    if not

    "If not" sometimes used "to introduce a different suggestion" and sometimes to suggest that smth maybe even larger, more important, etc. than was first stated". How could I make a difference?
    My phrase is:
    "A lot of this can be traced through standard, if not commonly available, reference sources" Which case is it? Thank you.

  2. Philly's Avatar

    • Join Date: Jun 2006
    • Posts: 620
    #2

    Re: if not

    .
    The words if not mean possibly or perhaps in your sentence.

    In other words, although the reference sources are standard, they might not be commonly available (perhaps they are not easy to find).
    .


    • Join Date: May 2006
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    #3

    Re: if not

    I would avoid the ambiguous phrase If not. It can mean either "but not/though not" or "maybe even."

  3. meliss's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: if not

    I can't avoid it - it's not mine. I should translate it. But I am not convinced that you're right Philly, sorry. Moreover, replacing "if not" with perhaps we'd get:

    "A lot of this can be traced through standard, perhaps commonly available, reference sources". Thus they are available!


    • Join Date: May 2006
    • Posts: 150
    #5

    Re: if not

    Quote Originally Posted by meliss View Post
    I can't avoid it - it's not mine. I should translate it. But I am not convinced that you're right Philly, sorry. Moreover, replacing "if not" with perhaps we'd get:
    "A lot of this can be traced through standard, perhaps commonly available, reference sources". Thus they are available!
    The sentence can mean either:

    A lot of this can be traced through standard, though not commonly available reference sources. OR A lot of this can be traced through standard, perhaps even commonly available reference sources.

  4. meliss's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: if not

    Exactly! But which one?

  5. Philly's Avatar

    • Join Date: Jun 2006
    • Posts: 620
    #7

    Re: if not

    Hi meliss
    .
    I agree with river that the sentence could have either meaning, however, my interpretation was based on the fact that the words "common" and "standard" can be synonymous. Therefore, the only logical reason to add the "if not" comment to the sentence would be to indicate "standard, though not commonly available" (i.e., not synonymous). Unfortunately, it's not possible for us to know whether the writer of this sentence uses the same sort of logic that I do.
    .

  6. meliss's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: if not

    Yes, I see. Tnank you, anyway. Very nice of you to tolerate my ignorance!

  7. Philly's Avatar

    • Join Date: Jun 2006
    • Posts: 620
    #9

    Re: if not

    Hi meliss

    I certainly didn't intend to suggest that you were ignorant, I only posted again to clarify my first post and to explain the logic that led to my interpretation. If I had to translate that sentence, "perhaps not" is the meaning I'd assign to "if not". It just seems the most logical to me.
    .

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