Not that I didn't like him, but just that it upset me so, having him look at me, and me trying to think of something to say.

A. Would you please tell me what are the bold parts are? that is, a conjunction, clause, and the like?

B. And, what about the following? what does it mean?

, but just that

C. Eventually, I am wondering what the following means:

...having him look at me,

Thanks in advance

Excepted from the collection of Alice Munro, the part"how I met my husband"

  • Stephie, thanks. Please excuse my being rudeness as I forgot to mention it. I am so sorry.
    – nima
    Jul 17, 2015 at 17:17
  • This question might be helpful: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/29055/what-about-that
    – Jasper
    Jul 17, 2015 at 17:26
  • +1, it seems to be a rather interesting question! :) . . . I had to think a bit on that one, as my first impression was that they were merely markers of subordination; and then I had to find the main clause; maybe there's an ellipted out "It was" at the beginning of the sentence? Hmm, not sure. Interesting. Hopefully someone will have the time to give you a solid answer.
    – F.E.
    Jul 17, 2015 at 21:21
  • Your example seems to have the structure of: "It was not[ A] but [B]", but the leading "It was" was deleted (maybe due to "conversational deletion"?). If I was to guess, that is. :)
    – F.E.
    Jul 17, 2015 at 21:43
  • er, those "that"s don't look like relative pronouns to me.
    – F.E.
    Jul 17, 2015 at 23:37

1 Answer 1


"That" is a relative pronoun. They are used to introduce clauses called relative clauses that modify the subject. The sentence you just read is a good example: "clauses" is the subject and the relative clause "that modify the subject" modifies clauses by specifying what they do.

The sentence you quoted would be most likely said/written nowadays with "it's" at the beginning ("It's not that... just that..."), but otherwise it is a common sentence structure in English that the speaker uses to clarify his or her feelings towards something. The antecedent for "that" is implied in this sentence, not written. Another way the sentence might be written is "I did not dislike him, but the awkward situation upset me." "But" has no real significance in the phrase and is there as a conjunction to join "not that I didn't like him" to the rest of the sentence. Otherwise, it would be a comma splice.

  • Great. Thank you all so much, especially Crazy Eyes.
    – nima
    Jul 17, 2015 at 22:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .