Have you ever heard someone starting or finishing a sentence with ‘if anything‘ like in the following examples?
1) If anything, he’s skinny.
2) They have too much free time, if anything.
To understand the meaning of ‘if anything’ in the above sentences, some context must be provided. The two examples I have given could be someone’s response to these comments:
1) Do you think he’s fat? >> If anything, he’s skinny.
2) Are they too busy? >> They have too much free time, if anything.
Can you see the pattern there? We use ‘if anything’ when we want to suggest that something or someone is actually the opposite of what is believed. Therefore, ‘If anything, he’s skinny’ is like saying ‘Actually/on the contrary / Contrary to what you might think, he’s skinny’.
There is another case where ‘if anything’ can be used but with a different meaning. Look at this example:
Well, if anything, the Mayans did teach us one valuable lesson. If you don’t finish something..it’s really not the end of the world.
In the above sentence ‘if anything’ is very similar in meaning to ‘at least’.
When to use it?
1) Every time you want to point out that a situation is actually the contrary of what another person thinks, what is commonly expected or in contrast to a previous statement:“London is not getting cheaper. If anything, it’s getting more expensive”.
2) Instead of ‘at least’: “Well, if anything, I hope this post hasn’t bored you.
If anything, I hope it aroused your curiosity”.