The following sentences are from annual shareholder meeting of Berkshire Hathaway. I am not asking the financial meaning but English structural meaning.

He explained: “When we sell something, very often it’s going to be our entire stake: We don’t trim positions. That’s just not the way we approach it any more than if we buy 100% of a business. We’re going to sell it down to 90% or 80%.”

I cannot exactly understand the Italic part. I know the usual usage of 'not ~ any more than' but the following 'if' makes me confusing.

Does it mean that 'only when we have 100% of a business, we trim positions'? If my understanding is correct, does the following sentence 'we're going ...' mean that 'when we have 100% of a business, we trim positions if it is necessary and then the trimming size will be down to 80~90%' which means the leftover will be 10~20%? It seems not to make sense to me.

2 Answers 2


Does it mean that 'only when we have 100% of a business, we trim positions'?

No, it quite clearly states "We do not trim positions". The next sentence is merely for emphasis.

As far as the English is concerned, it is the equivalent to saying

We would [be] no more [likely to] do X than we would [be likely to] do Y.

What that means is that you would never ever do Y, and you are about as likely to do X. Y is a hypothetical action, and that may be where the 'if' crept into the sentence. This is probably recorded speech rather than writing, and sometimes things that don't quite fit grammatically creep in.

In normal usage, Y is a hyperbolic (exaggerated) action, for example giving all of your money away, and X is something that you want to indicate that you wouldn't do either. A woman might say this about a dress that she really didn't like:

I would no more wear that dress than I would walk around naked.


I think this one of those sentences that, when you pin it down in black and white and pick it apart, doesn't actually make proper sense, but in normal speaking, it's common to say things like this, and readily 'fixed' by the native-speaking listener.

The easiest way to 'fix it' is to simply drop the "if": "That's just not the way we approach it, any more than we [would] buy 100% of a business".

I think the "if" appears because the mental logic is something like: "That's just not the way we approach it, any more than if we were buying a business we would buy 100% of it", but that's unwieldy, so it comes out as a sort of mix of both.

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