then with

dessinemoi

New Member
french
Hi,

Could someone please explain to me the meaning of the word "then with" in the sentence "What if this young president wanted to reconcile France, if not with actual happiness, then with the signs of happiness".

I didn't know that "then" could have the same meaning than "but", am I right?

thanks
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    "If not A, then B" is a specific construction. But doesn't cover the full meaning; when this structure is used, it implies that A is more complete, and B is an attenuated, reduced, or limited version. It is used here because "actual happiness" and "signs of happiness" are closely related concepts.

    You might also hear this in questions such as "If now now, then when?"
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    The construction "If not (negation)... then...", e.g.:

    If you can't do it right now, then do it tomorrow.

    Not doing sth results in doing sth else.
     

    dessinemoi

    New Member
    french
    "If not A, then B" is a specific construction. But doesn't cover the full meaning; when this structure is used, it implies that A is more complete, and B is an attenuated, reduced, or limited version. It is used here because "actual happiness" and "signs of happiness" are closely related concepts.

    You might also hear this in questions such as "If now now, then when?"


    ok, I understand now.

    thanks:)
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)
    "If not A, then B" is a specific construction. But doesn't cover the full meaning; when this structure is used, it implies that A is more complete, and B is an attenuated, reduced, or limited version. It is used here because "actual happiness" and "signs of happiness" are closely related concepts.

    You might also hear this in questions such as "If now now, then when?"

    Yes, I would say B is the substitute, the second choice when A is not possible to be achieved.

    And in this context, it's even more interesting when B is the face/signs/illusions of A. To me, the writer is trying to be somehow ironical.

    --If you can't really love her, then "show" her that you do.
     
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