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Example with a context (YouTube link):

I drove slowly back to the office. The telephone was ringing when I arrived at the office. I went in quickly and answered it. "Samuel speaking." "Listen, Samuel," replied a voice. "Forget about Elaine Garfield. We hurt you a little in her apartment. If you don't forget all about Elaine Garfield, we'll hurt you a lot more."

I'm not exactly sure how I should understand all—as a pronoun or an adverb? It seems as though it can equally be understood both ways. For example, if we assume that all is a pronoun, then semantically the sentence will mean something like this: if you don't forget everything that you know about her, we'll hurt you a lot more. On the other hand, if we think of all as an adverb, we'll get the following: if you don't completely forget about her, we'll hurt you a lot more. The two meanings are quite different. Please, help me solve this little, weird grammar conundrum of mine.

  • I don't see a difference between the two options. The end result is that you're "forgetting" her... not that that's possible. – Catija Apr 9 '15 at 23:39
  • Grammatically in sentence - if you don't forget all about her... - all is an adverb, modifying the verb - forget. So both the meaning you mentioned in the title is possible. Essentially that leads to one thing. Both are same here, as @Catija suggested. – Man_From_India Apr 10 '15 at 2:08
  • does it really matter? she or any matter about her/related to her must be forgotten. – Maulik V Apr 10 '15 at 5:00
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    Consider: "I forgot the homework", "I forgot all the homework", "I forgot most of the homework", "I forgot about the homework", "I forgot all about the homework". – F.E. Apr 10 '15 at 19:07
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I am not a grammarian, though I am a native speaker. The meaning in this context is, "Forget you even knew her." That is, to never see her or attempt to communicate with her again, as you will be hurt badly if you do. I know of a real-life event that may be related in context. A young man was dating a criminal's girlfriend. Others in the criminal network told him to stay away or he would be in trouble. After going out with her again, he found his very nice car riddled with 30+ bullet holes. I hope this example gives you a sense of how serious this warning can be in certain situations. I hope this context helps you to answer your question.

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Let's rephrase : Unless you forget about Elaine Garfield, we'll hurt you a lot more.

Thus, the adverb/pronoun "all" is not required at all in the sentence.

Just to shed some more light, with "all", it adds meaning to process of forgetting the memories of Elaine Garfield.Thus, "all" just exaggerates the process of forgetting. Hence, it is more of an ADVERB.

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All acts like an adverb over here definitely emphasizing on "forget".

Well if we take the scene in to consideration.. i guess (personal opinion) "all" being used here to create a dramatic touch.

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