'not to mention' and 'not to speak of'

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raymondaliasapollyon

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

I'm interested in the difference between 'not to mention' and 'not to speak of'.
Consider first the following two sentences:

1. John can do calculus, not to mention arithmetic.
2. John can do calculus, not to speak of arithmetic.

Are both correct? Is there any difference?

What about 3?

3. John can do arithmetic, not to speak of calculus.

I'd appreciate your help.
 
  • BLUEGLAZE

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    "Not to mention" is a set phrase making your first sentence correct.
    "Not to speak of" has a very different meaning.
    Example: My grandfather committed suicide. In the family we were told not to speak of it ever.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I don't think we use "not to speak of " in the same way as "not to mention". We do say "to say nothing of":

    John can do arithmetic, to say nothing of calculus. I'm not sure that this is a good use of the expression, because there isn't anything extraordinary about being able to do arithmetic.

    John is only six years old, and he can do arithmetic - to say nothing of/not to mention algebra and calculus. That child is a genius.

    "To say nothing of/not to mention" means "and in addition", so there is an emphatic, cumulative effect.

    to say nothing of

    1. (idiomatic) used by the speaker to mention another important, usually related, point; an apophasis
      She had already eaten a large lunch, to say nothing of having had two breakfasts that morning.
      Source: Wiktionary
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I don't think we use "not to speak of " in the same way as "not to mention". We do say "to say nothing of":

    John can do arithmetic, to say nothing of calculus. I'm not sure that this is a good use of the expression, because there isn't anything extraordinary about being able to do arithmetic.

    John is only six years old, and he can do arithmetic - to say nothing of/not to mention algebra and calculus. That child is a genius.

    "To say nothing of/not to mention" means "and in addition", so there is an emphatic, cumulative effect.
    Thank you for bringing 'to say nothing of' into the discussion.

    Can you say:

    3.. John can do arithmetic, not to mention calculus.
    1. John can do calculus, not to mention arithmetic.

    What's the difference between 3 and 1?

    What about 4 and 5?

    4. John can do arithmetic, to say nothing of calculus.
    5. John can do calculus, to say nothing of arithmetic.

    What's the difference between 3 and 1?
     
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