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"?


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 '19 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 '19 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 '19 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 '19 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 '19 at 13:10

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