there's an article i was reading in newspaper and i stopped on this line beacause i couldn't been able to understand it properly,which says "surender singh hooda said that if not for her presence of mind,jaswant would have not been arrested". in this line 'for her presence' is used for what,instead it should be 'of her presence' i guess? please explain!! i'm very curious to know the meaning of this line.

  • Please use proper capitalization, punctuation, etc.
    – NVZ
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 10:35
  • For isn't referring to anything. For here is part of the fixed phrase if not for, as @Bill points out. Commented May 27, 2017 at 14:55
  • It means: the arrest would not have been accomplished without her quick thinking. Commented May 29, 2017 at 3:42

1 Answer 1


"If not for her presence of mind" is an alternative to saying

"If she didn't have presence of mind"


"If it weren't for her presence of mind".

"If not for" is a complex phrase, does that clear it up?

  • It's an idiomatic complex phrase, which makes it even more confusing. It's hard to tell what's been left out, so it's sort of fixed as three words introducing a Noun Phrase: if not for NP. You could think of it as a complex preposition, if that helps. The point is that it's fixed. Commented May 27, 2017 at 14:53

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