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  1. retro's Avatar
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    #1

    almost vs. all but

    Hi

    An article in a newspaper reads:
    "The fire that all but destroyed the office building of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Alexandria did not destroy historical records as officials had first feared."

    My question is: can we replace all but with almost? If so, how can you determine which is more appropriate, does it depend on context?

    Which would you use in the below sentence?

    The accident all but/almost cost him his life.

    Thank you!
    Last edited by retro; 23-Apr-2007 at 13:32.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: almost vs. all but

    Quote Originally Posted by retro View Post
    Hi

    An article in a newspaper reads:
    "The fire that all but destroyed the office building of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Alexandria did not destroy historical records as officials had first feared."

    My question is: can we replace all but with almost? If so, how can you determine which is more appropriate, does it depend on context?

    Which would you use in the below sentence?

    The accident all but/almost cost him his life.

    Thank you!
    Either. "All but" is a bit more graphic - it suggests a scene of total devastation (all) ... but [what a surprise!] one thing survived.

    b

  3. retro's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: almost vs. all but

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Either. "All but" is a bit more graphic - it suggests a scene of total devastation (all) ... but [what a surprise!] one thing survived.

    b
    Does your take also apply to my sentence?

    Can we say
    "the accident almost cost him his life"
    suggests that though he got off with just a few bruises, he could've died, and
    "the accident all but cost him his life" suggests that he broke his arms and legs, was seriously injured, however, he stayed alive (considering his critical condition he could've died but, what a surprise, he survived)?

    Well, the second one sounds a little bit odd to me.
    What'd you think?

  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: almost vs. all but

    Quote Originally Posted by retro View Post
    Does your take also apply to my sentence?

    Can we say
    "the accident almost cost him his life"
    suggests that though he got off with just a few bruises, he could've died, and
    "the accident all but cost him his life" suggests that he broke his arms and legs, was seriously injured, however, he stayed alive (considering his critical condition he could've died but, what a surprise, he survived)?

    Well, the second one sounds a little bit odd to me.
    What'd you think?
    No, that's perfectly OK. In fact, in the first case he might have been totally unharmed (perhaps a bullet hit his hat, or an oncoming truck missed him by a hair's breadth); but the multiple injuries case is exactly right for the second one.

    b

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