“The library, which I had never seen otherwise than wide open, was tight shut.”

  • 3
    otherwise than : in any way except the way that you are mentioning. macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/otherwise-than – user 66974 Jan 7 at 13:25
  • Has the character seen the library wide open before or not? I am so confused , sorry. – Xyzxyz Jan 7 at 13:31
  • The character had always seen the library wide open, apart from this time when they saw it shut. – user 66974 Jan 7 at 13:33
  • Thank you very much. – Xyzxyz Jan 7 at 13:38
  • 1
    Or just "other than..." – Weather Vane Jan 7 at 13:41

otherwise = in the other way or differently

than = compared to something

otherwise than = differently or in the other way compared to something

You never saw the library differently or in the other way compared to "wide open".

"differently/in the other way" modifies "saw"

differently from "wide open" means in the way that not wide open = closed or = opened with short distance

You never saw the library closed/in the other way before.


In the given context, otherwise than means that the person has only seen the library open before, and is now seeing it closed.

Try replacing with 'other than'. They mean the same thing and are both grammatically correct, though 'otherwise than' embellishes the sentence a little more.

A few helpful links: Glosbe definition, Macmillan Dictionary definition

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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