If anything he's just bad at math a little bit.

yukinohana

Senior Member
Japanese
Hello,

"Tom isn't a bad student. If anything he's just bad at math a little bit."
"Joe isn't a bad boy. If anything he's a pretty good one."

Do these two sentences make sense to you?

Thanks a lot!
 
  • Sireno87

    Member
    American English
    Yes they do. However I would say "Tom isn't a bad student. If anything he's just a little bit bad at math. This one sounds better to me.
     

    yukinohana

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you for your answer.
    This second sentence in my post is actually from a dictionary - But I'm confused about its use.
    This first sentence is from myself, according to my understanding of meaning of "if anything".
    My understanding is, something that someone writes after "if anything" is slightly different from what they mentioned earlier. But in this sentence, "Joe isn't a bad boy. If anything he's a pretty good one." The second part of the sentence just confirms the first part, They don't seem to convey different meanings though. The only difference is, if anything, the writer used "pretty good", is it a pun?

    I don't know if I've understood all this right, thanks for your help!
     

    Sireno87

    Member
    American English
    Hrm. The second sentence does make sense. "Joe isn't a bad boy. If anything he's a pretty good one." The "if anything" in this context it's used in a way to reaffirm the meaning that he is a good boy. Also the "if anything" is used in an arguing sense.

    Perhaps there is a conversation and two people are arguing if Joe is a good or bad boy. Person X thinks he is bad and person Y thinks he is good. Person X says something like "Joe didn't turn his homework in" and person Y replies with "That doesn't make Joe a bad boy, if anything he's a pretty good one". It's to say that just because Joe did not turn his homework in he is still a good boy.

    Hope that clears it up some.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I agree with Sireno. The first sentence looks a little strange, and the second sentence illustrates the normal use of 'if anything'.

    'If anything', means 'if we compare the earlier statement or assumption and the new statement (which contradicts the earlier one), the new statement is more correct'.

    We are no better off now than we were before. If anything, we are worse off.
     
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