Once he said "developed by a chiropractor," I took it with a few tablespoons of salt. Can I substitute word Once for word When?

  • 1
    If you use when in such contexts, you might just be neutrally reporting the sequence in which events took place (which could in principle have happened in a different order). But using once implies some kind of "causal" link (i.e. - the implication is the second event wouldn't have happened at all unless and until the first had happened). Nov 8, 2017 at 17:39

2 Answers 2


Yes, the two in this context have effectively the same meaning. However, I think you mean "with a pinch of salt" or "with a grain of salt": https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/take+with+a+pinch+of+salt

  • I got marked down there - I don't know why. Within context they are equivalent; any nuance between the two is unnecessary nitpicking.
    – Lee Leon
    Nov 8, 2017 at 18:04
  • When people say a "few tablespoons of salt", or "a heaping teaspoon of salt", or "quite a bit of salt", etc, they are usually trying to intensify the idiom meaning, "not sure if it is believable", and turn it into "not believable at all".
    – Lorel C.
    Oct 14, 2019 at 4:03

I think it depends on the context. "Once" can mean "As soon as" or "At the moment when", whereas "When" by itself does not have that "momentary" flavour.

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