3

How do I decide whether I should use "in no way" or "by no means"? Are they different in any way? Should either of these terms be used at all?

For example:

In no way am I suggesting that...

By no means am I suggesting that...

or should I stick to something like:

I am not suggesting that...

Thanks ahead of time!

7
  • 1
    In my opinion as a native American English speaker both "in no way am I suggesting" and "by no means am I suggesting" are more confrontational than "I am not suggesting...."
    – Lumberjack
    Aug 29, 2014 at 19:30
  • @Lumberjack Thank you for that very good observation. I hadn't even considered the tone. Aug 29, 2014 at 19:33
  • The first two are emphatic; the last simply factual. Of the first two, for denying any implications attach to a statement, I prefer the first ("in no way"). When describing outcomes or denying equivalence or identity of two objects, I prefer the latter ("by no means").
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 29, 2014 at 19:34
  • @Lumberjack That assumes you are speaking in a confrontational context. You might be saying, for example, 'By no means burden yourself on my account...'
    – WS2
    Aug 29, 2014 at 19:35
  • Thanks guys. If these were the first three words of a disclaimer, does it seem like "In no way" is the best option? Aug 29, 2014 at 19:36

1 Answer 1

3

They are very similar phrases. Both are usually stronger than the raw I am not suggesting.

They both suggest that a reader could attempt to construct a multitude of arguments leading from the preceding discussion to whatever unfortunate suggestion follows, and that every single such line of implicit reason is denied by the author.

That you have added words to this effect suggests that you are defending against such a position and so could be seen as defensive or, in other contexts, merely robust.

A means in this context refers to a process or system designed to some particular end and purpose -- "I will escape the prison by means of a rope ladder"; -- as does a way, by the metaphor of a path from a problem to a solution, -- "I will solve this problem the old-fashioned way". All such means (and ways) of building whatever conclusion follows are denied by the author.

I find it impossible to separate the two expressions.

Some people prefer "I am by no means suggesting that..." and "I am in no way suggesting that" which seem slightly more idiomatic and common than your original construction (a conclusion also supported by search counts).

2

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.