at all?

nick   Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:29 am GMT
Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all. what does "at all" mean? "Don't drink at all." Give me another example, please.
Guest   Mon Feb 25, 2008 3:40 am GMT
It sort of means "if any"
Guest   Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:50 am GMT
"She only had one glass of wine if any at all" = "She might have had one glass of wine, but most likely she had none"

"at all" would be translated into German as "wenn überhaupt"
Lazar   Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:12 am GMT
It means, ‹Drink alcohol only in moderation, if you drink it at all.›

I'm always a little amused when ads for alcoholic beverages are accompanied by the disclaimer, "Drink responsibly." Of course only a pedant would dispute the fact that ‹if at all› is implied, but still you could argue peevishly that they are enjoining *everyone* to drink. :)
RayH   Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:20 pm GMT
Here's an interesting example I found with Google:

Benign thyroid nodules grow slowly if at all.

This means that benign thyroid nodules may or may not grow but if they do grow they grow slowly.
RayH   Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:34 pm GMT
Another Google example:

Blogging will be light, if at all, next week.

This is rather awkwardly phrased but the blogger means that he expects to do very little blogging next week and that his readers should not be surprised if he does not do any blogging next week.

I was surprised how hard I had to work at this to avoid using the term "at all" in my explanation.