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Although I have just googled, actually, I failed to get my specific answer, yet. I am wondering what is the difference between "all that" and "what".

For instance:

"All that I need is x."

Or:

"What I need is x."

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"All I need" is used when you want to express the fact that what you need isn't much. You might say:

"What I need", on the other hand, is used when you're simply trying to explain what you need, not how important the thing(s) are. You could have a list, or be in a position where what you need is irrelevant, all that matters is that you get something done, for example.

So, in summary, use "all" when you want to emphasize that you don't need much, and "what" when you just want to tell someone what you want.


As @WhatRoughBeast said, beware of this being said ironically, or sarcastically. I'm not sure if this is difficult to hear in someone's voice when coming from a different language, though!

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    With the usual caveat that "All I need" can be used ironically, in which case it usually implies that you need a great deal, and realize that you won't get it. Mar 14 '15 at 21:58
  • I cannot get what this means:With the usual caveat that "All I need" can be used ironically, in which case it usually implies that you need a great deal, and realize that you won't get it. –
    – nima
    Mar 16 '15 at 18:21
  • @Nima What WhatRoughBeast means is that "all I need" can be said in a way that implies you need, but won't get, a great amount. You can look up irony and sarcasm if you want some further reading.
    – HarryCBurn
    Mar 16 '15 at 18:44
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"All that I need" emphasizes that there is nothing you need besides the items you proceed to list.

"What I need" makes it clear that you need a particular list of Inge, but here might be other things you also need but didn't list.

"What I need is more time" means that you definitely need more time to complete something. You might need some tools or some money also, but you are stressing that time is the critical thing you need.

"All that I need is more time" is explicit that you don't need anything else, just time.

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