not <all> smooth sailing

  • RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    No. It means that some, but not all, of the work went smoothly. Your version says that none of the work went smoothly.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    I couldn't say that Natsuna's version says that none of the work went smoothly.

    The "at all" tag is an idiom, and does mean the "all" in B), for me.

    A) Working there was not smooth sailing at all.
    B) Working there was not all smooth sailing. (OP)
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I agree with RM1, more or less :).

    1. Working there was not all smooth sailing.
    2. Working there was not smooth sailing at all.

    1. "not all" means there were some rough patches; it wasn't invariably smooth.
    2. "not smooth at all" means it was definitely not smooth - in fact it was pretty rough.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I understand the previous answers. In my opinion the true meaning depends on context and tone of voice.

    Examples

    1. We had a wonderful marriage, it wasn't all smooth sailing but looking back, the good parts far outweighed the bad.

    2.
    "John, you had an incredibly well-paid job. You must have lived the life of Riley."
    "Hmm ... That's as may be, I could never relax even at week ends. A job like that isn't all smooth sailing.
     
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