0

I read the sentence below:

... Which didn’t but only because I didn’t know what it was

I guess it means I had no feelings about it because ... But I am not sure. Could you please tell me what the meaning of "I didn’t but only" is?

The fuller text is:

Charles had designed my course schedule. He’d signed me up for two music classes and a course on religion, all of which he said would be easy for me. Then he’d enrolled me in two more challenging courses—college algebra, which terrified me, and biology, which didn’t but only because I didn’t know what it was.

1

didn't but only is not an expression: you have to consider it as three separate words.

didn't refers back to "terrified me", so you could straighten that out by saying

biology didn't terrify me because I didn't know what it was

only makes it clear that there just one reason, and but indicates that it's not a very good reason. You could use these two words together in a sentence like

I passed the exam, but only by two percent.

2

The OP doesn't realize where the antecedent lies.

Then he’d enrolled me in two more challenging courses—college algebra, which terrified me, and biology, which didn’t but only because I didn’t know what it was.

The relative pronoun, which, refers back to something previously mentioned.

The antecedent of “which terrified me” is algebra
The antecedent of “which didn't (terrify me)” is biology

The speaker was not terrified of (studying) biology because at the time she didn't know what biology meant or what it would entail.

1

One added comma might have made it all a little easier to grasp at first read...

college algebra, which terrified me, and biology, which didn’t, but only because I didn’t know what it was.

It's referring to being terrified of algebra, but not biology.
The writer doesn't know what biology is, so isn't in any way scared of it.

  • 1
    I think the sentence also might also be implying that the writer may have been terrified of biology had they known more about it at the time. – J.R. May 30 '18 at 11:42
1

I didn't but only is a bit meaningless by itself.

The "complete sentence"

college algebra, which terrified me, and biology, which didn’t but only because I didn’t know what it was.

Let me add some more info

college algebra, which terrified me, and biology, which didn’t (terrify me) but only because I didn’t know what it was.

As you can see didn't applies to the precedent verb. The speaker was terrified by algebra but he/she wasn't terrified by biology. The speaker wasn't terrified because he/she didn't know what biology was.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.