the fact that the body is in a boat at all

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Axelroll

Senior Member
Spanish (Spain)
Hello,

I need to know what is the meaning of "at all" in this sentence. Dictionaries don't seem to be any help.

The salient feature of the situation seems to me the fact that the body is in a boat at all.

The "situation" is a murder, and the corpse has been found in a boat, floating on a river.

Many thanks for any help you may provide.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'At all' usually makes a negative stronger: It was no help at all; It is not at all likely. But it can be added to other things:

    Would you have spare pen at all? [makes it more polite and uncertain]
    I want to avoid him if it all possible. [= if possible (but stronger)]
    I'm not sure how ill she is, if at all. [She might not be ill at all.]

    So it's most significant (salient) that the body's in a boat. 'At all' adds to the strength of that.
     

    Momerath

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes it serves to emphasise the fact that the body is in a boat.

    It means the same as "the fact that there actually is a body in the boat is the salient feature." or "the mere fact that there is a body in the boat is the salient feature."

    You might equally say: "That he went there at all is strange" meaning "the fact that he actually went there is strange" or "the mere fact that he went there is strange"
     
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