By any means vs. by any chance

jokaec

Senior Member
Chinese - Hong Kong
Teacher: You failed in math final exam?
Student: "By any means" or "By any chance", can I not repeat the same grade? Maybe can I go to summer school?


I know they are different, but ar they both correct? If so, which one is more appropriate in my context? Thank you.
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    "By any chance, ..." is correct here. At the start of a question it means "Is it possible that..." The student is asking what choices the school's rules give him.

    "By any means" is not correct in this sentence.

    "By any means" sometimes means "using any method" (often with "possible" added) and other times means "at all". Here is one example of each:

    Student: I want to stay in school by any means possible.

    Teacher: That will not be a problem, by any means. (It is not a problem at all)
     

    pasfacil

    Member
    English - British
    To my ear neither makes good sense. Nor, dojibear, do I think the teacher could say: "That will not be a problem, by any means." That makes little sense to me either....
    If I understand the student correctly, jokaec, s/he might say: "I can't do that grade again. Maybe I can go to summer school?" To which the teacher, let us speculate, might reply. "By all means.." (meaning, yes, sure)
     

    jokaec

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Hong Kong
    To my ear neither makes good sense. Nor, dojibear, do I think the teacher could say: "That will not be a problem, by any means." That makes little sense to me either....
    If I understand the student correctly, jokaec, s/he might say: "I can't do that grade again. Maybe I can go to summer school?" To which the teacher, let us speculate, might reply. "By all means.." (meaning, yes, sure)
    Thank you both.
    I just wonder if there is a way to avoid repeating the same grade. In this case, is "by any ways" the same as "by any means"? Is it correct?
     

    jokaec

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Hong Kong
    Student: Can I go to Summer School by any chance?
    Teacher: Yes, certainly, by any means.
    Thank you, London calling.
    Sometimes, I am not sure which way I can take to avoid repeating the same grade at first. In this case, is "by any chance, I can avoid repeating the same grade?" correct?
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    No, it is not correct, jokaec. It is a question, so you have to say Can I?, not I can? You can however put 'by any chance' at the beginning of the sentence.
     
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    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Thank you, London calling.
    Sometimes, I am not sure which way I can take to avoid repeating the same grade at first. In this case, is "by any chance, I can avoid repeating the same grade?" correct?
    In AE your student would ask "Is there any way I can avoid repeating third grade?"

    In AE the phrase "by any chance" is not used often. It is used to ask about some unlikely, lucky event (pure "chance"). It means the same as "is there any chance that...". For example:

    "I am planning to visit Russia next year. By any chance, have you been there? If so I would love to ask you some questions."

    The student might use the phrase "Is there any chance", if he thought it unlikely but was asking anyway:

    "Is there any chance (that) I can avoid staying back (in 3d grade)? If so, how would I do that?"
     
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    jokaec

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Hong Kong
    In AE your student would ask "Is there any way I can avoid repeating third grade?"

    In AE the phrase "by any chance" is not used often. It is used to ask about some unlikely, lucky event (pure "chance"). It means the same as "is there any chance that...". For example:

    "I am planning to visit Russia next year. By any chance, have you been there? If so I would love to ask you some questions."

    The student might use the phrase "Is there any chance", if he thought it unlikely but was asking anyway:

    "Is there any chance (that) I can avoid staying back (in 3d grade)? If so, how would I do that?"
    :thumbsup::thumbsup:
     

    Daniellll

    Senior Member
    korean
    Student: Can I go to Summer School by any chance?
    Teacher: Yes, certainly, by any means.
    Hi london calling. Could I please ask you a quick question?
    To my ear, 'By all means' sounds very positive with the intention of conveying that there won't be any problem.
    Whereas, 'By any means' sounds rather sarcastic saying 'try as best as you can if you wish to go'.
    Is there any difference in nuance? or are they the same?
    Thank you!
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    "By any means" sometimes means "using any method" (often with "possible" added) and other times means "at all". Here is one example of each:

    Student: I want to stay in school by any means possible.

    Teacher: That will not be a problem, by any means. (It is not a problem at all)
    Did you read this? They mean different things.
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Daniellll asked about the difference between 'by all means' and 'by any means' ['To my ear, 'By all means' sounds very positive...
    Whereas, 'By any means' sounds rather sarcastic ...Is there any difference...?'], a question no-one has addressed yet - perhaps because it's beyond the scope of this thread.
     

    Daniellll

    Senior Member
    korean
    Daniellll asked about the difference between 'by all means' and 'by any means' ['To my ear, 'By all means' sounds very positive...
    Whereas, 'By any means' sounds rather sarcastic ...Is there any difference...?'], a question no-one has addressed yet - perhaps because it's beyond the scope of this thread.
    Thank you for mentioning that :)
    What is your take on the sarcasm regarding 'by any means'?
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    What is your take on the sarcasm regarding 'by any means'
    I'm not clear what you mean by this. To me, 'by any means' simply means what it appears to - 'by any possible way'. I think it takes on a more idiomatic status when used with a negative - 'not...by any means', which is the same as 'by no means' : 'It is by no means certain' , 'It is not certain by any means' = 'It is not at all certain'; essentially it adds emphasis- 'definitely not' , not just 'not'. I don't see any sarcastic edge in normal use, though of course like almost all words it might in an appropriate context be pronounced with a sarcastic intonation.
     

    Daniellll

    Senior Member
    korean
    I'm not clear what you mean by this. To me, 'by any means' simply means what it appears to - 'by any possible way'. I think it takes on a more idiomatic status when used with a negative - 'not...by any means', which is the same as 'by no means' : 'It is by no means certain' , 'It is not certain by any means' = 'It is not at all certain'; essentially it adds emphasis- 'definitely not' , not just 'not'. I don't see any sarcastic edge in normal use, though of course like almost all words it might in an appropriate context be pronounced with a sarcastic intonation.
    So you mean it is rather vague or impossible to pick up the nuance in a text unless we hear.
    It makes everything clear to me! Thank you so much for the kind reply. :)
     
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