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almost not; not almost Options
zhonglc2020
Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2019 10:24:46 PM
Rank: Member

Joined: 7/7/2019
Posts: 107
Neurons: 723
Hello everyone,

This kind of things is very complicated to me.
Here are examples by myself:

1. He speaks almost no English.
2. He does not almost speak English.
3. He almost does not speak English.
4. He does not speak English almost.

I think #1 is correct,but not sure about whether #2 is, and I am totally lost about 3 & 4.
I notice "almost" is an adverb, so I think it should be correct to put "no", an adjective, after it.

Then what about,
5. He is almost not a friend of mine.
6. He is not almost a friend of mine.
7. He does not almost get the money.
8. He almost does not get the money.

Do 5-8 make sense?
I think 5 is OK, and maybe 8.

If there exist "almost not" and "not almost", what do they mean in general?


Many thanks.



FounDit
Posted: Friday, November 15, 2019 11:23:15 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 12,179
Neurons: 60,532
zhonglc2020 wrote:
Hello everyone,

This kind of things is very complicated to me.
Here are examples by myself:

1. He speaks almost no English.
2. He does not almost speak English.
3. He almost does not speak English.
4. He does not speak English almost.

I think #1 is correct,but not sure about whether #2 is, and I am totally lost about 3 & 4.
I notice "almost" is an adverb, so I think it should be correct to put "no", an adjective, after it.

Then what about,
5. He is almost not a friend of mine.
6. He is not almost a friend of mine.
7. He does not almost get the money.
8. He almost does not get the money.

Do 5-8 make sense?
I think 5 is OK, and maybe 8.

If there exist "almost not" and "not almost", what do they mean in general?


Many thanks.


Only #1 works. The others all sound strange and wrong.

"Almost no" and "almost not" are sometimes used. The both mean that something is limited in some way.

Your first sentence, "He speaks almost no English" is such a sentence. It means his English is very limited.

"That is almost not a bad idea", means the idea has merit, but is limited in some way that could cause it to be a very bad idea in the end result. It would likely be said as a joke; something along the lines of "Hey, let's go rob a bank".

These are the only two examples that come to mind at the moment. "almost" is usually used to express something that is not quite finished, or completed.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
Romany
Posted: Friday, November 15, 2019 12:38:53 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 16,029
Neurons: 50,781
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

The phrase " almost no..." is a colloquial way of saying "very little" or "few". As with most colloquialisms it doesn't stand up to grammatical or rhetorical scrutiny. It's something which many people use - but no-one parses!

The reason it's classified as a colloquialism is because it isn't used literally. (Just as "literally" has now been accepted by a very large group of people as meaning "figuratively"). It's usage has become hyperbolic: it doesn't MEAN 'almost no'. Usually it means little/few/not the ones I want.

e.g. someone could stand in front of a bulging wardrobe and say "I've got almost nothing to wear." They don't mean there's only one or two items that they could choose from; they mean that they want to go shopping! (They don't fancy any of the clothes they already own.)

"Who's at the party?"
"Almost no-one." this doesn't mean that there are only three forlorn party-goers in a big empty room: it often means "There's no-one we know there."

In this respect - casual usage - it's commonly understood.

It's too hazy and indefinable for formal or "good" writing/speech:- it's usage is better expressed as few, little, not, as I said above.

"He speaks almost no English." = "He speaks very little English." "He doesn't speak much English."
"We've got almost no money in the bank. = "We've very little money in the back." " We don't have much money in the bank."
"Last year we had hundreds of people at our Open Day - almost no-one came this year. = "The numbers were low in comparison to last year." "We had a lot less people this year compared to last."

(The first in each pair of sentences is a direct 'translation'. The second is the usage most people would use.)

Does that help?


zhonglc2020
Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2019 1:27:27 AM
Rank: Member

Joined: 7/7/2019
Posts: 107
Neurons: 723
Thank you both for your time.
It's really helpful.
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