how to understand "fail to be anything less than"

jasonlulu_2000

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Source: Chicken Soup for the Soul

The Greyhound bus has never failed to be anything less than interesting every time I have taken a ride. The bus is always full of characters. The stops are never ending, the people are never shy and the atmosphere is never dull.

I understand that "never fail to" means "always" and "anything less than" means "not". So it seems that the underlined part means that the bus is always not interesting. However, I believe the other way around is what the author wants to express in this context.

Am I right or is there anything wrong with my understanding?

Thanks!
 

GoesStation

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The author means A trip on a Greyhound bus is never dull. Interesting > dull.
 

jasonlulu_2000

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The author means A trip on a Greyhound bus is never dull. Interesting > dull.
I understand that "never fail to" means "always" and "anything less than" means "not".
Is there anything wrong with it?

Thanks!
 

slevlife

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Great question, jasonlulu_2000. You're right that, logically, it's inverted from its intended meaning.

"Anything less than" can mean "not," but not here!

In this context, "anything less than" is an intensifier. However, it only works with preceding phrases that are negative ("it has never failed to be", "it isn't", etc.). In positive sentences ("it proved to be", "it is", etc.), you can use "nothing less than" to mean the same thing. Note that these intensifiers are typically used with stronger words than "interesting" (e.g., astounding, miraculous, incredible, fascinating, or breathtaking).

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Aside: The whole line is overly verbose. Apart from the wordy phrases "has never failed to be" and "anything less than," the second part of the sentence ("every time I have taken a ride") is basically just repeating "has never failed to be" in different words. A little later, the author then repeats it again with "the atmosphere is never dull."

GoesStation gave you a great rewrite for the first sentence.
 
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