grammatical expression: not that…


I have another very common expression that I’d like to write about today. This is another one that English speakers use all the time in conversation but, as far as I know, nobody ever teaches it. It is “not that” followed by a particular sentence. It is used when we say something to another person and then we think they may have gotten the wrong idea about us based on that statement. We say “not that” followed by another sentence to make sure they didn’t misunderstand what kind of person we are. For example:

Sometimes I play video games, not that I’m a computer geek or anything like that!

I went to see a French movie with my girlfriend, not that I like foreign films. She made me go with her!

I work a lot of overtime for my job, not that I want to. I have no choice.

I memorized all the Chinese characters and their meanings in this book, not that it was easy for me. It took me a long time to do it.

My husband has agreed to help me with the party, not that he had a choice. I told him I wouldn’t cook for him unless he helped me.

So, in these examples, the statement that follows “not that” indicates that I’m not a computer geek, I don’t like foreign films, I don’t want to work overtime, memorizing the Chinese characters was not easy for me, and that the husband didn’t have a choice about helping with the party. As I mentioned at the beginning, the person says these things to ensure the other person doesn’t misunderstand.

This is a very common expression. If you haven’t heard it before, I hope you’ll now be able to notice when English speakers use it.


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