I believe that the requirement is being exercised but not say, directly called in the test.

What does "but not say" mean? Does it mean something like "though we can't say"?


1 Answer 1


It is perhaps more meaningful if another comma is placed before "say".

I believe that the requirement is being exercised but not, say, directly called in the test.

This would mean there is a requirement, but it is not stated or asked for in the test itself.

  • Thank you! Yes, it's possible. But what about the phrases like "not say", "but not say" - do natives use them as I guessed (to mean "though we can't say")? This meaning would fit that sentence too and is quite close to your guess.
    – embedc
    Mar 9, 2019 at 12:51
  • The purpose of the comma is to separate the "not" from the "say", so that "not say" is no longer a phrase. Using the comma-separated "say" means that the following phrase is a possibility not a certainty. The phrase "but not say" makes no sense in the sentence you gave. Mar 9, 2019 at 12:54
  • Yes, I've got it. So the sentence "I'm hungry but not say very much" isn't likely to be said by a native speak, right?
    – embedc
    Mar 9, 2019 at 12:57
  • That's right. An example use of "say" could be "I'm going out, I will be back in say 10 minutes", which means I will return quite soon, but not sure exactly when. Mar 9, 2019 at 12:59
  • I think this use of 'say' is basically a disfluency. The word could be left out or replaced with 'um' and it wouldn't change the meaning.
    – Ed Grimm
    Mar 9, 2019 at 13:10

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