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For example:

I hope I'm not bothering you in any way at all?

Can you use both "in any way" and "at all" together in the same sentence? Or are they interchangeable and should be used alone like in either of these sentences?

I hope I'm not bothering you in any way?

I hope I'm not bothering you at all?

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    See this chart showing a steady increase in written occurrences of the 5-word sequence in any way at all over the past two centuries. We often repeat the same sense in different words for emphasis (especially in negating contexts, I feel). Consider the in any way shape or form "cliche". Commented Apr 22 at 10:15
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    ... or even "I hope I'm not bothering you." Commented Apr 22 at 15:47
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    No question mark needed at end. Also, note that if used as an intro to interrupting and bothering the recipient, it can sound hollow. Like the recruiter emails that begin "First of all, hope you and your family are well!!!" It's polite, but we're strangers, so the impetus is virtue signaling or getting buddy-buddy to make a sale. Maybe "Sorry to bother you" is simpler. Commented Apr 22 at 17:01
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    The example given is unnecessarily redundant and sounds overcooked, but there are sentences where the emphatic tautology works well: 'It was an enormous tsunami; having sea walls two metres higher would not have helped in any way at all.' Commented Apr 22 at 17:50
  • It's ambiguous if "at all" is modifying "any way" or going back to the verb. In the former case it would be equivalent to "in absolutely any way". Tone of voice or commas would help. In practice, whatever.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Apr 23 at 14:21

3 Answers 3

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Yes, you can use similar-meaning phrases, such as in any way and at all together in a sentence. This is heard in natural, informal conversation — and also in legalese. I can find no source calling it 'ungrammatical'. Its appropriateness depends on context, of course.

Humans use repetition for emphasis, sometimes as an almost instinctual verbal patting, like saying "there, there, there" to an infant. Essentially repeating the question (...In any way? At all?), emphasizes its importance to the questioner.

Lawyers, on the other hand, use repetition and slight variation to cover all the bases, to leave no wiggle room in contracts, as required.

Repetition and redundancy are human in speech and literature, but tedious in legalese and expository writing.

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A pedantic question deserves a pedantic answer: it is not redundant to use both these terms because, strictly speaking, their meanings are different. In any way concerns the quality of what one is talking about, while at all concerns its quantity.

To apply that to the OP's example, one can bother others in qualitatively different ways: by making loud noises, or asking many questions, or making nervous gestures, etc. If I ask someone 'Am I bothering you in any way?', I am asking whether I am doing any of these qualitatively different things. On the other hand, one can bother someone just a little, or more than just a little, or quite a lot, or to an unbearable extent. If I ask someone 'Am I bothering you at all?', I am asking 'Am I bothering you even to the slightest possible extent?'.

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  • Saying there aren't any fruits that I have is the same as saying that the quantity of fruit that I have is zero. Saying that there isn't any quality in which you are bothering me is the same as saying that the quantity of you bothering me is zero. Commented Apr 23 at 2:17
  • Very good analysis. I thought it's a simple pleonasm but it is not, not quite. Commented Apr 23 at 11:16
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Chalk is not like cheese in any way at all... The "at all" is a universal qualifier that denies any loophole arguments.

The statement is not necessarily true of course, but from their point of view it is. An absolute to be accepted. We are being slightly more firm when we use this.

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