all but

Tombbb

Member
Polish
Hello,

I'd like to ask you how to interpret the words " All but" .

Accoding to what I've read if "all but" is used before a noun, it means "all except for"

However, it seems to me that in the following sentence :


Today, a degree is all but a necessity for the job market, one that more than halves your chances of being unemployed.



it doesn't make sense. What's more, it means something totally opposite, I mean, something very important.

To sum it up, please tell me whether the words "all but" in the exemplary sentence mean very important or unimportant.

Thank you very much.
 
  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    It means, as you said, "all except for". In other words, it's not a necessity at all, you could do well without it on the job market.:thumbsdown:
    Sorry VicNicSor, not in this context.

    See this forum definition of "all but" Idioms
    • Idioms all but, [be + ~] almost;
      very nearly: These batteries are all but dead.
    So it means "a degree is virtually essential if you want to lower your risk of being unemployed."
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    English is confusing, isn't it?

    "All but" has two meanings:
    1. Something is excluded:
      A: Is everybody here now?
      B: All but Peter. He said not to wait and he'll catch us up later.

    2. Very nearly:
      "When I found him he was all but dead"
    Usually, "all but" with the first meaning is followed by a noun, and with the second meaning it is followed by an adjective, but here we have the second meaning where the writer has decided to use a noun (a necessity) rather than an adjective (necessary). This isn't wrong, but few writers would do this, which is why you read 'if "all but" is used before a noun, it means "all except for"'. Usually it does, but not this time.
     

    Tombbb

    Member
    Polish
    Sorry VicNicSor, not in this context.

    See this forum definition of "all but" Idioms
    • Idioms all but, [be + ~] almost;
      very nearly: These batteries are all but dead.
    So it means "a degree is virtually essential if you want to lower your risk of being unemployed."

    Thank you very much.
     

    Tombbb

    Member
    Polish
    English is confusing, isn't it?

    "All but" has two meanings:
    1. Something is excluded:
      A: Is everybody here now?
      B: All but Peter. He said not to wait and he'll catch us up later.

    2. Very nearly:
      "When I found him he was all but dead"
    Usually, "all but" with the first meaning is followed by a noun, and with the second meaning it is followed by an adjective, but here we have the second meaning where the writer has decided to use a noun (a necessity) rather than an adjective (necessary). This isn't wrong, but few writers would do this, which is why you read 'if "all but" is used before a noun, it means "all except for"'. Usually it does, but not this time.


    Thank you very much.
     
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