In this passage from "For whom the bell Tolls"

"He looked down the hill slope again and he thought, I hate to leave it, is all. I hate to leave it very much and I hope I have done some good in it."

I don't understand the "is all" part. (English is not my native language)

  • I suspect the more adequate translations would require a verb of saying: All I want (or have) to say is that I hate to leave it. – Brian Donovan May 14 '16 at 14:41

It's a way to emphasize that he hates to leave it. It suggests that that may be good reason reason for him to be elsewhere, but he just doesn't want to leave where he is.

Many times people will focus on one aspect of a situation and make that the basis of a decision, and say something like, "is all" or "That's all I'm saying." For example,

A: I think you should go outside. You need a break.

B: Yes, but I really have to finish this.

A: I'm not saying you shouldn't finish, but I think you'll do a better job of it if you take a break, is all. [or: "That's all I'm saying."]

There are several versions of this. Sometimes people will say:

Just sayin'.

You could also use "The thing is" or "it's just that":

I know I'm late, but the thing is, I just hate to leave it.

I know I'm late, it's just that I hate to leave it.

which means "I know I must go, but I don't want to--not because I don't want to be there, but because I don't want to leave here." This is the same as:

I just hate to leave here, is all.

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  • thank you. By the way, the context of that passage is stronger than just leaving for elsewhere as the hero is living his last moments. That is why I was frustrated with missing a detail of that final part of the book. – Arnaud Mégret May 16 '16 at 8:24

is all = and that's all there is to it

An alternative expression would be "It's just that..."

It's just that I hate to leave it.

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I believe I am correct in saying that Hemingway in For Whom the Bell Tolls deliberately renders much of the direct speech in an English which employs Spanish grammatical forms. This was done for special effect.

So For Whom the Bell Tolls, for that reason, is perhaps not a good book to use if one is attempting to learn English grammar.

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  • You are right. I read about 20 novels in English and this one has been somehow strange in the way it is written. Not much difficult vocabulary, but sometimes obscure way of telling things. – Arnaud Mégret May 16 '16 at 8:16
  • @ArnaudMégret Yes I read it many years ago. Not only the conversations but much of the narrative employs Spanish speech forms. The Wikipedia article has an interesting section headed "language", which talks all about it. – WS2 May 16 '16 at 10:10

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