Author Topic: other than  (Read 4672 times)

Offline xiemengxing

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other than
« on: November 19, 2016, 05:28:14 pm »
Hello everyone,

1. Three students passed the test other than Bill.
An American dictionary tells me that "other than" means "besides"and "except"
So sentence1 means both 4 students passed the test and 3 students passed (Bill didn't pass the exam.)
If I am right, then sentence1 is ambiguous. What is the usual way to reword sentence1 clearly (to mean 3 passed the test) ?

2. Someone other than Bill failed the exam.
Again,  did Bill pass the exam?
Still I think the sentence could be explained in two ways.
(a) besides: Bill failed.
(b) except: though the sentence does not tell us directly about what Bill's performance was, it is possible to infer Bill didn't fail.

What do the two sentences really mean?


Many many thanks.





Offline Darryl

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Re: other than
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2016, 08:50:17 pm »
Well firstly, let it be said the sentences are a bit awkward.
Sentence 1 means that four people passed the test and Bill was one of them. I don't see any ambiguity there. Other than in that sentence means besides. Except doesn't quite fit.
Sentence 2 means that Bill failed the exam but he wasn't the only one. Someone else failed too.
You could rephrase them as:
1. Bill passed the test along with three other students.
2. Bill and another student failed the exam.

Offline xiemengxing

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Re: other than
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2016, 01:47:20 am »
It's really a difficult thing for me.
In most cases, "other than" means "except" to me but it is not on this truck in above examples.
Maybe it is not a logical thing and it is just an accustomed usage?
« Last Edit: November 20, 2016, 01:50:27 am by xiemengxing »

Offline Darryl

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Re: other than
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2016, 11:03:13 am »
Yes, I can understand how difficult it would be.
On having a second look at Sentence 2, I can see how you could read into it two possibilities - Bill failed or he didn't. But it really is an awkward sentence and is much better recast to show its intended meaning.