Example sentence:

She thought she could do anything.

  • At least, she thought that.
  • At least, that was what she thought.

Is the meaning of the two phrases the same?


They mean the same thing, in that a her past thought was 'x'. "was what she thought" and "she thought" can have different connotations though.

"Was what she thought" I believe would be past perfect tense, and implies her thought might have changed since then.

"She thought" is simple past tense and does not imply that her thought has changed since then.

  • 1
    I think "At least she had thought so" is what implies possible change, and is what I had thought was past perfect. But also simplification is possible: _ At least she thought so._
    – Xanne
    Jun 23 '17 at 18:07
  • @Xanne So, "At least she thought so." is the same as "At least she had thought that" which is different to "At least that was what she thought?" Or maybe I'm mistaken?
    – alex
    Jun 23 '17 at 18:12
  • Yeah the "was what she (had) thought" meaning is what comes to mind. It feels like "had" was implied. "Was what she though" just feels awkward to me in general to say. Jun 23 '17 at 18:12
  • 1
    @Alex "At least she thought so" is the same as "At least she thought that" and "At least that was what she thought." Adding "had" to any of them suggests that she thought so then, but has probably changed her mind.
    – Xanne
    Jun 23 '17 at 18:22
  • 1
    "At least she thought so" is less ambiguous than "At least she thought that", which could be taken as a fragment for "At least she thought that [something was something]". It's also far more common in the English where I live (Canada). Jun 23 '17 at 18:48

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