grammatical expression: to say the least

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Today is my 200th blog entry!!!! I can’t believe it! Where did all the time go? I want to thank my readers for all your nice comments, and I hope to continue writing this blog for a long time.

Anyway, for today’s blog entry, I would like to write about another common expression: “to say the least”. It is used when we want to indicate that a certain word isn’t strong enough to describe a situation. For example:

My sister just won $100,000 in the lottery. She’s really happy, to say the least!

Thank you for giving that doll to my daughter. She loves it, to say the least!

There are many good-looking people in Italy, to say the least!

A: Well, that was a very strange movie.

B: Yeah, to say the least. I haven’t seen such a weird movie in a long time.

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A: Would you say Charlie is a serious person?

B: Oh yes, to say the least. He never laughs or even smiles.

So, by using “to say the least” in these sentences, we’re saying that the words “happy”, “love”, “strange” and “serious” don’t go far enough in describing the situation. However, instead of adding “really, really, really, really” to the beginning to emphasize the word, we use “to say the least” at the end to emphasize it.

As you can see from the examples, we usually use this expression in sentences with adjectives, but sometimes we can use it with verbs such as “like”, “love”, “hate”, etc. We can also use it when talking about the quantity of something, as in the third example about how many good-looking people there are in Italy.

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