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I am reading The Economist, and I do not understand one sentence.

ALMOST one year into Donald Trump’s presidency, you have to pinch yourself to make sense of it all. In “Fire and Fury”, Michael Wolff’s gossipy tale of the White House, which did not welcome Mr Trump’s anniversary so much as punch it in the face, the leader of the free world is portrayed as a monstrously selfish toddler-emperor seen by his own staff as unfit for office ...

Here, What does “which did not welcome Mr Trump’s anniversary so much as punch it in the face” mean? I thought the gossipy tale did not welcome the anniversary and it did not punch it either, but I am not sure.

Does it mean the tale did not welcome the anniversary as strong as it punched the anniversary? If so, why did the writer use “punch” instead of punched?

Could you please help me?

Thank you so much in advance.

closed as off-topic by curiousdannii, Dan Bron, Scott, jimm101, Skooba Feb 14 '18 at 20:06

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  • (1) "Does it mean the tale did not welcome the anniversary as strong as it punched the anniversary?" __ yes you interpreted it right here (2) "If so, why did the writer use “punch” instead of punched?" __ "Punched" instead of "punch" might also be idiomatic here: did not welcome (...) so much as punched it in the face... – English Student Feb 10 '18 at 4:18
  • Yes indeed @Lee. It was not a welcome of the anniversary but a strong criticism. (But you are most welcome!) – English Student Feb 10 '18 at 4:20
  • @EnglishStudent Thank you very much. Hope you have a great day. – Mango Gummy Feb 10 '18 at 4:22
  • We are always happy to help you @Lee, here on English Language and Usage. – English Student Feb 10 '18 at 4:23
2

Does it mean the tale did not welcome the anniversary as strong as it punched the anniversary? If so, why did the writer use “punch” instead of punched?

Yes. You can expand the original quote so that both sides include the subject and verb:

[His tale did not] welcome Mr Trump’s anniversary so much as [his tale did] punch it in the face…

In the construction “X so much as Y”, X and Y must have the same form, and here that form is the infinitive, because of the auxiliary verb “did not”, which is outside the construction. One side is negative and the other is affirmative, but they’re not necessarily infinitive. For example:

  1. He didn’t answer my question so much as rephrase it.

    • He didn’t (answer so much as rephrase) my question.
  2. They didn’t sing the words so much as chant them.

    • They didn’t (sing so much as chant) the words.
  3. She hurt me, by not so much what she said as what she didn’t say.

In #3, the past tense is indicated by the verbs “said” and “didn’t say”, inside the “…so much as…” phrase.

  • Thank you so much. So for #1, it means he rephrased my question but did not answer, and #3 means she hurt me with what she didn’t say and what she said to me didn’t hurt me as much as what she didn’t say? Sorry, I’m confused. – Mango Gummy Feb 11 '18 at 10:24
  • Yeah, you understood #1 right. For #3, maybe an example would help clarify. Imagine a boy says “I love you” to his girlfriend, and she replies “I know”—he might feel hurt, not because she said “I know”, but because she didn’t say “I love you” back to him. (Implying she doesn’t love him, or isn’t comfortable saying that she does.) – Jon Purdy Feb 12 '18 at 12:12

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