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You are watching: What does the phrase all but mean

These 3 expressions, “all but”, “anything but”, and “everything but”, are amongst the most confusing in the English language for native speakers of various other languages. Although “all”, “everything” and “anything” room all comparable in meaning, once they are complied with by “but”, they deserve to mean fully different things!

One the the interpretations of words “but” is “except”, and you can discover all 3 expressions used in their literal meanings (i.e. “all except”, “anything except” and also “everything except”), e.g.

Were all her friends there? Yes, all but Joey.What would certainly you favor to eat? I desire anything yet the cacao cake.Would you favor me come gift-wrap everything? Everything however the candles, please.

However, much more often than not, you will check out these 3 expressions offered idiomatically:

All but

“All but” means “almost”, “nearly” (which does no make much sense, I should admit, yet that’s just the way it is). For example:

He to be all yet lost in the city.It to be all yet impossible.

could it is in expressed without utilizing “all but” as

He was nearly lost in the city.It was nearly impossible.

Anything but

“Anything but” deserve to be rephrased utilizing “not at all” or “in no way”. For example:

They were anything yet positive around the proposition.This smartphone is anything however ordinary.

which means the same as

They were not at every positive about the proposition.This smartphone is in no means ordinary.

Everything but

The definition of “everything but” is fairly literal; it means “everything except”, “everything v the exception of”. Because that example:

I eat everything but meat.She desires everything but happiness for various other people.

which means

I eat everything except meat.She wants everything with the exemption of pleasure for other people.

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Nonetheless, the definition is not fully literal. As soon as you eat “everything however meat”, it doesn’t mean that you eat every solitary food imaginable. It means that you feeling strongly around not eat meat.

This article was based on my overview to the most usual mistakes in English, which explains many comparable topics. Why nothing you inspect it out?