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not so much

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:55 am
by azz
a. Pete is tall; his brother not so much.
b. Pete is very tall; his brother not so much.


Do these mean
1. that Pete's brother is short
2. that he is average
3. that he is not tall
4. that he is not really tall (maybe a little tall)
or
5. that he is not very tall
?

Many thanks.

Re: not so much

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:20 pm
by Erik_Kowal
Any of those meanings could be inferred, because "not so much" in this context is so vague. Sometimes it is used in humorous understatement (for instance, if the brother was unusually tiny in this case), and sometimes it is intended to be taken more at face value.

Without more contextual information being available, it is impossible to be sure what the speaker (or perhaps writer) intends the hearer to infer.

Re: not so much

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:56 pm
by trolley
Not only is "not so much" rather vague but the adjective "tall" is a relative term.
"Pete is tall; his brother is not." could also mean any or all of your examples.

Re: not so much

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:57 pm
by Phil White
Idiomatically, I think it would be far more normal to say "Pete is tall; his brother less so", but Erik's comments still apply.