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    #1

    "all but one of ... was..."

    Dear teachers,
    Please read the following sentence:
    The city set up a shelter at an elementary school, but American Red Cross spokeswoman Courtney Johnson said all but one of the families was able to find a place to stay with friends or relatives.

    What's the meaning?
    Does "but" mean "except" here? If so, why isn't "were" used here since "all" refers to all families? why "was"?
    I looked up dictionary, "all but" can be a phrase meaning nearly, does the sentence mean "nearly every one of the families was able to ..."?

    I am puzzled, please help!
    Thanks a lot!

  1. new2grammar's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "all but one of ... was..."

    Quote Originally Posted by japanjapan View Post
    Dear teachers,
    Please read the following sentence:
    The city set up a shelter at an elementary school, but American Red Cross spokeswoman Courtney Johnson said all but one of the families was able to find a place to stay with friends or relatives.

    What's the meaning?
    Does "but" mean "except" here? If so, why isn't "were" used here since "all" refers to all families? why "was"?
    I looked up dictionary, "all but" can be a phrase meaning nearly, does the sentence mean "nearly every one of the families was able to ..."?

    I am puzzled, please help!
    Thanks a lot!
    Does "but" mean "except" here? >>>>yes

    If so, why isn't "were" used here since "all" refers to all families? why "was"?>>>because we are talking about only one family

    Hope it helps

  2. Snowcake's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: "all but one of ... was..."

    Quote Originally Posted by japanjapan View Post
    Dear teachers,
    Please read the following sentence:
    The city set up a shelter at an elementary school, but American Red Cross spokeswoman Courtney Johnson said all but one of the families was able to find a place to stay with friends or relatives.

    What's the meaning?
    Does "but" mean "except" here? If so, why isn't "were" used here since "all" refers to all families? why "was"?
    I looked up dictionary, "all but" can be a phrase meaning nearly, does the sentence mean "nearly every one of the families was able to ..."?

    I am puzzled, please help!
    Thanks a lot!
    All families were able to finde a place to stay. Except one.

    Same in:

    Everyone but him arrived on time.


    The city set up a shelter at an elementary school, but American Red Cross spokeswoman Courtney Johnson said all but one of the families was able to find a place to stay with friends or relatives.

    The verb 'was' refers to 'one of'. It is one family, and hence, one takes the singular.


  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: "all but one of ... was..."

    Quote Originally Posted by japanjapan View Post
    Dear teachers,
    Please read the following sentence:
    The city set up a shelter at an elementary school, but American Red Cross spokeswoman Courtney Johnson said all but one of the families was able to find a place to stay with friends or relatives.

    What's the meaning?
    Does "but" mean "except" here? If so, why isn't "were" used here since "all" refers to all families? why "was"?
    I looked up dictionary, "all but" can be a phrase meaning nearly, does the sentence mean "nearly every one of the families was able to ..."?

    I am puzzled, please help!
    Thanks a lot!
    You could also read it as "All the Families were able... except one which wasn't"

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    #5

    Re: "all but one of ... was..."

    "were" should have been used.

  4. Snowcake's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: "all but one of ... was..."

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    "were" should have been used.
    Can you explain why? Is it the comparable to "A number of ... were ...'?

    Thank you.



    • Join Date: Apr 2008
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    #7

    Re: "all but one of ... was..."

    All in this case is the subject of the clause and should in this case use a plural verb. Make the phrase "but one of the families" parenthetical and try saying the sentence without it.

  5. Snowcake's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: "all but one of ... was..."

    Though I don't know what parenthetical means I think I got it.


    Thank you. It's clear now.
    Last edited by Snowcake; 30-May-2008 at 00:13.

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