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if not sooner/if not most Options
missfelicity
Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2018 4:43:52 AM

Rank: Newbie

Joined: 10/13/2018
Posts: 19
Neurons: 210
1. I'm working on my fitness and I will be ready in a couple of weeks, if not sooner.
2. Let's meet tonight if not sooner.
3. Many people, if not most, will agree with her.

Could you tell me what "if not sooner" and "if not most" mean in these three sentences?
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2018 1:40:05 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 32,783
Neurons: 201,989
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi!
They are part of the adverbial phrase stating the time or number.

"in a couple of weeks, if not sooner" means I'll be ready in two weeks - or possibly I will be ready earlier than that.
"tonight if not sooner" means "tonight, or possibly earlier than tonight".

"if not most" means ""any people will agree with her - in fact, possibly, most people will agree with her."

You could take the "if not" as being a form of "or" which indicates which of the choices you would expect or prefer, usually. Or it can ask for a preference.

I'm working on my fitness and I will be ready in a couple of weeks, if not sooner. means you would like it to be less than two weeks.

Let's meet tonight if not sooner. asks if you would prefer to meet earlier.

Many people, if not most, will agree with her. says that the speaker thinks it is probably most people.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
missfelicity
Posted: Friday, December 21, 2018 2:05:54 AM

Rank: Newbie

Joined: 10/13/2018
Posts: 19
Neurons: 210
Thank you very much. But do you think "if not" has the meaning of "even"? Because in my grammar book, the writer thinks that "if not" and "even" mean the same thing. The writer is not a native speaker, so I'm not sure if he is right. Besides, "possibly" and "even" sounds very different. ex:

Their behavior was reproachable, if not criminal. (The writer says this sentence means "their behavior was reproachable, even criminal.")
He bullied his opponents and impugned their integrity, if not their patriotism. (The writer says it means "he bullied his opponents and impugned their integrity and even their patriotism.)
Thank you your time and help!
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Friday, December 21, 2018 8:23:45 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/30/2016
Posts: 1,404
Neurons: 8,874
Location: Luton, England, United Kingdom
missfelicity wrote:
Thank you very much. But do you think "if not" has the meaning of "even"? Because in my grammar book, the writer thinks that "if not" and "even" mean the same thing. The writer is not a native speaker, so I'm not sure if he is right. Besides, "possibly" and "even" sounds very different. ex:

Their behavior was reproachable, if not criminal. (The writer says this sentence means "their behavior was reproachable, even criminal.")

They are not the same thing here, "Their behaviour was reproachable, if not criminal" means that their behaviour was morally wrong but did not break any laws. A bank that decided to evict a family for not paying their mortgage on Christmas Eve would have the right to do so, but most people would think they would be wrong to do so.

He bullied his opponents and impugned their integrity, if not their patriotism. (The writer says it means "he bullied his opponents and impugned their integrity and even their patriotism.)
Again they are not equivalent He has impugned his opponents integrity, but has not accused them of being unpatriotic.

Thank you your time and help!


"If not" in these two examples is used differently than in the first two that you have given us missfelicity.

I lack the imagination for a witty signature.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, December 24, 2018 3:41:51 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 32,783
Neurons: 201,989
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
I agree with Sarrriesfan.
In some cases, it is true that one can replace "if not" with "or even" (I don't think just the word "even" works) and give the same sort of idea - but they don't mean exactly the same.

1. I'm working on my fitness and I will be ready in a couple of weeks, if not sooner. - I'd like it to be sooner - I'm working on being ready in less than two weeks.
1a. I'm working on my fitness and I will be ready in a couple of weeks, or even sooner. - I may have some luck, in which case it may be earlier, but it's not something I can control.
2. Let's meet tonight if not sooner.
2a. Let's meet tonight, or even sooner. - These two mean almost exactly the same.
3. Many people, if not most, will agree with her. - Probably most people.
3a. Many people, or even most, will agree with her. - Possibly most people.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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