Ifs and buts
Reader question: In this sentence – "I don't want any ifs and buts, just do as she says" – what do "if" and "but" mean?
"If" and "but" here go hand in hand. If you want someone to give you "no ifs and buts", you want them to go ahead and do what you ask them to do without argument.
"If" implies condition, under which something might happen or will happen. For example, "I'll love you back if you love me first". This might happen – keep your fingers crossed.
Or "if you can make enough money for the two of us, I promise I'll stay at home not do any work." This, and worse (maybe not even any housework), probably will happen.
Or "if I had that car and that house, I would be happy." This is wishful thinking. It happens all the time and the wishful thinker is never happy, for if he has that house he'll then say: "I would be happy if I had a bigger car and a bigger house."
In "ifs and buts", "but" suggests resistance. It is an explanation, or rather a reason or as a matter of fact an excuse for not doing something. For example, "I wanted to put the cabbage and mutton into the pot at the same time, but the television says you shouldn't."
But the television doesn't always know. Again, something should be done but is not done.
You get the drift. Ifs and buts prevent people from getting things done. Eliminate them from your life. Let things happen. If you give up "ifs and buts", you might have some good fun. I'm sure you will, but I can't say that – when it comes to YOUR life, I can never be sure. So let's stick with "might".
Here are a few media examples:
1. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, the Rangers would be having a wonderful Christmas.
- The Blue it Again (nypost.com, December 24, 2006)
2. With Utd having leapfrogged us briefly, it meant that when we kicked off against the Blues half an hour later, there were no ifs and buts, we simply had to win, if we weren't going to gift our rivals a massive psychological advantage.
- We're the dominant partner now, Chelsea (Irish Examiner.com)
3. No ifs and buts about this paste
A hand-mixed nappy-rash cream has become a big hit in America. Melissa Whitworth finds out why
Pharmacist Dr George Boudreaux never dreamed that a potion he concocted to soothe newborn babies' bottoms would make him a millionaire.
Nor did he realize that fans of this potion would include Oprah Winfrey, cyclist Lance Armstrong and basketball star Shaquille O'Neal.
One thing he was sure of, though, was its name: Butt Paste. Boudreaux's Butt Paste, to be exact.
- (telegraph.co.uk, January 11, 2004)
4. "This stuff doesn't need to be public. If elected, I'll pull the plug on the Web site, no ifs and buts about it," Antosek said.
- Antosek challenges Earnhardt, Internet records (Salisbury Post, March 16, 2007).