The following sentence is from the Wall Street Journal.

The new Inflation Reduction Act has many damaging provisions, but for sheer government gall the $80 billion reward to the Internal Revenue Service stands out.

I can't comprehend after but for. I understand that the editorial writer thinks that the act is bad and the reward too. And as a prepositional phrase but for should be followed by noun or similar one but there is a verbal phrase which is stands out. So I got to see but for not as the common usage which usually means if not or except for.

Should I seperate but and for like this?

The act is bad for most of tax payers, but good for the sheer and gall government, and that point stands out.


If there were not gall of the sheer govenrment, the act is bad, and the reward stands out.

I think the latter rephrasing doesn't make sense.

  • "as a prepositional phrase but for should be followed by noun" - It is followed by a noun phrase: sheer government gall. Did you look up the word gall?
    – stangdon
    Aug 24, 2022 at 11:12
  • @stangdon Yes. I know gall means imprudence. So do you think that except for gall of the sheer government, the act is damaging.? Aug 24, 2022 at 12:16
  • 1
    Not exactly. But does not mean except here - it's like "My brothers are all tall, but Han is the tallest." It is not negating the first part of the sentence, only adding to it.
    – stangdon
    Aug 24, 2022 at 12:29
  • Impudence, not imprudence! (They have different meanings.) Sheer describes the gall, not the government. Aug 24, 2022 at 14:55

1 Answer 1


For sheer government gall means as an example of complete gall (impudent behaviour) on the part of the government. They are saying that the reward to the Internal Revenue Service is a notable instance of this. It is one of the ways in which the Act is harmful.

  • 2
    +1 and to make clear that "but for" isn't a structure here at all. It's "but" as a normal conjunction, then "for sheer government gall" as a separate structure as Kate describes
    – gotube
    Aug 24, 2022 at 13:16

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