And sometimes I get distracted by patterns.
There are several pairs of words like "always" and "sometimes" that I've been calling dual adverbs, because "not always" means the same thing as "sometimes not":
- "Strangers are not always nice." = "Strangers are sometimes not nice."
"Everywhere" and "somewhere" work the same way, in that "not everywhere" means the same as "somewhere not":
- "It's not messy everywhere." = "Somewhere it's not messy."
(These are reminiscent of the dual quantifiers "for all" and "there exists" from logic: If it's not true that all cars are red, there must exist a car that is not red, so "not for all" = "there exists (such that) not." That's why I'm calling these pairs of adverbs dual.)
Another example with a similar flavor is "totally" and "partially": not totally = partially not.
But here are some examples that surprise me, where it's not so easy to see it as an instance of "for all" versus "there exists":
not often = usually not
- "It's not often raining" = "It usually isn't raining."
not yet = still not
- "It's not ready yet" = "It still isn't ready."
My pattern-collecting self wants to keep on looking for more pairs of dual adverbs, but let me ask you: what do you think are some of the subtle differences between the meanings of these sentences? What does one suggest that the other doesn't? Let me know in the comments!
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