if for no other reason than

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Julianus

Senior Member
Korean
Hello.

1. a. Captain Koppe sensed that this was one of those times when he had to be alone—if for no other reason than to remind himself that he would have to make his
decision alone. (from Korean university entrance exam)

I can't find this meaning in my dictionary. What does it mean? Could you inform me of the several, possible meaning about 'if for no other reason than'?


Thank you always~.
 
  • Moon Palace

    Senior Member
    French
    Hello,

    It means that the first and main reason for him to be alone was that it enabled him to remember that the decision would have to be his and his only.
    Another way of saying this is: the only reason why he had to be alone was to remind himself that he would have to make his decision alone.
    I hope it has helped you.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The expression '... he had to be alone - if for no other reason than to remind himself...' unfortunately is not correct grammatical English. The 'if' and the 'than' conflict with each other here. One or other must go.

    The following expressions, leaving out the 'than', are correct:

    '... he had to be alone - if for no other reason, then to remind himself...'
    '... he had to be alone - if only to remind himself ...'
    '... he had to be alone - if only because he wanted to remind himself'


    or, leaving out the 'if' (which changes the intended sense):

    '... he had to be alone - for no other reason than to remind himself ...'
     
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    Moon Palace

    Senior Member
    French
    I am rather surprised to see that you consider this as a mistake, wandle. Would this be a British English / American English issue?
    Consider this sentence quoted in the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

    "it is a favorite of mine if for no other reason than because it is the only poem that I know..." (Robert Frost)
    On the other hand, this Oxford Thesaurus gives "if for no other reason than" as a synonym of if only. And it seems to be used in many books.. :confused:
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    "it is a favorite of mine if for no other reason than because it is the only poem that I know..."
    Clearly, in the context of Robert Frost's sentence, 'if for no other reason than' works as a long-winded alternative to 'if only'.
    The same will be true in any similar context.

    However, the sentence in the original post is distinctly different.

    Please note that I have not said, and do not mean, that 'if for no other reason than' is incorrect.

    If we adopt Robert Frost's structure for the original post, the result is rather lengthy:

    '... he had to be alone - if for no other reason than because he wanted to remind himself ...'
     
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    Moon Palace

    Senior Member
    French
    Sorry for believing you thought it was an absolute mistake. But I am still somewhat confused: why is it that in the original post, you deem it to be erroneous whereas it could be replaced with if only:
    He had to be alone, if only to remind himself that...
    Besides, to me than is clearly related to other, and I see no conflict (as you seem to have pointed to) between if and than.
    Thanks for helping me see clearly through it all. :)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I don't think there's a BrE/AmE issue here, MP. "If for no other reason than" works for me in jullianus's sentence.

    He had to be alone - if for no other reason than to remind himself....
    is equivalent, for me, to
    He had to be alone - if only to remind himself
    ....
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Hmmm...

    On second thoughts, I have made a mistake (as a result of looking onwards for something to correspond with 'if').
    The proper way to understand the original sentence is:

    '... he had to be alone - even if it were for no other reason than to remind himself ...'

    The original is merely an abbreviation of this: and other contexts also work the same way.

    (However, I still think 'if for no other reason than' is long-winded.)

    Sorry for any confusion caused.
     
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    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    The phrase "if for no other reason" suggests that there may be additional reasons; in fact, there may be better reasons. But this one reason is enough to justify the action.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    This is the concessive if for no other reason than, or, as Loob says, if only because, of which some writers are fond.

    The phrase is certainly common enough and it has little to do with the conditional use of if, so words have not been left out, or assumed.

    If for no other reason than, or if only because is a softer concessive than though only because and classically allows one apparently to choose between alternatives, maybe unspecified alternatives - the reason chosen is mentioned, but the less, or sometimes more, powerful ones discounted often aren't, and aren't here, as far as I can see.
     
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    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Loob says 'if for no other reason than to do' is equivalent to 'if only to do'. I just remembered this message, and wondered if 'if for no other reason than to do' would be used following the rules?:
    (1) an initial action
    (2) if for no other reason than to
    (3) one (or some) of the benefits from the initial action; and
    (4) the other benefits which remain unspoken.

    Captain Koppe sensed that this was one of those times when he had to be alone—if for no other reason than to remind himself that he would have to make his decision alone.
    (From the OP)
    (1) Captain Koppe sensed that this was one of those times when he had to be alone.
    (2) if for no other reason than to
    (3) He could remind himself that he would have to make his decision alone.
    (4) ??? the other benefits unspoken???
     
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