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If past experience is anything to go by, he'll completely ignore our suggestions and then change his mind at the last minute.

I looked up the phrase "go by" in my dictionary, but I can't understand it. Could you explain me the parts in bold?
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Hi,

If past experience is anything to go by, he'll completely ignore our suggestions and then change his mind at the last minute.


I looked up the phrase "go by" in my dictionary, but I can't understand it. Could you explain me the parts in bold?

It's an idiomatic phrase. Generally speaking, it is used to indicate that something may be a guide, a hint, a useful indication. It makes the speaker sound a bit sceptical, not 100% certain..

eg Tom: Do you think Mary likes me?

Fred: Well, yesterday she asked me your name, if that's anything to go by.

The meaning in your example is that past experience may be a useful way of predicting what 'he' will do.

Best wishes, Clive
Again, Thank you Clive very much.

I got the meaning of "go by", but I am still finding a bit confused with the phrase "anything to go by".

Could you give me some more examples so that I will try to grasp its meaning?
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Hi,

I got the meaning of "go by", but I am still finding a bit confused with the phrase "anything to go by".

Could you give me some more examples so that I will try to grasp its meaning?

She smiled at me.

If her smile is anything to go by, I think she likes me.

You could paraphrase this as 'If her smile is a thing to go by, I think she likes me'.

It's like saying 'If her smile is (any) evidence, I think she likes me'.

Do you want to try to write a couple of sentences for me to look at?

Clive
Hi,

I got the meaning of "go by", There can be various meanings for this phrase. I wonder if you are thinking of the wrong one. Why don't you write a few sentences just using the phrase 'go by'?

but I am still finding a bit confused with the phrase "anything to go by".

Could you give me some more examples so that I will try to grasp its meaning?

She smiled at me.

If her smile is anything to go by, I think she likes me.

You could paraphrase this as 'If her smile is a thing to go by, I think she likes me'.

It's like saying 'If her smile is (any) evidence, I think she likes me'.

Do you want to try to write a couple of sentences with 'If X is anything to go by, . . . ' for me to look at?

Clive
Thank you very much Clive.

Here is a couple of sentences :

(1) If the forum rules is anything to go by, I am sure your posts will be deleted.

(2) If the money is anything to go by, I think she will not marry you.

Please help me.
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Hi,

Here is a couple of sentences :

(1) If the forum rules is anything to go by, I am sure your posts will be deleted.

If the forum rules are anything to go by, I am sure your posts will be deleted.

(2) If the money is anything to go by, I think she will not marry you.

This is correct grammar, but it's hard to think of a context where you would say this.

Best wishes, Clive
Thank you Clive.

Here is the context what I can think of for the second sentence :

I doubt if Mary will marry me or not because I am poor. So I asked my friend, "Do you think Marry will marry me". My friend replied, "If the money is anything to go by, I think she will not marry you. Otherwise you have everything she wants about you".
I don't think you've quite grasped it. You haven't taken on board this part of Clive's explanation - it is used to indicate that something may be a guide, a hint, a useful indication. It makes the speaker sound a bit sceptical, not 100% certain..

Forum rules are definitely the guide to behaviour here, no doubt about it, there is nothing to be sceptical about, so your first use isn't really correct.

With this expression you are predicting an outcome using information that doesn't absolutely predict anything. You are acknowledging this. You strongly believe that you are predicting the right outcome (or usually anyway) but there isn't necessarily a direct link between the info and the result. You are using your experience/knowledge of the situation to create a link.

The money/marriage example doesn't really work either as they are just asking your opinion - you are not backing this opinion with evidence of Mary's previous behaviour. You have nothing to judge her by. It's just your simple opinion - you are not stating what is guiding you towards this opinion.

There is also the doubt element - you are not saying 'we should compare against this previous situation' so much as 'I think we could compare against this previous situation'

Is anything to go by = if this is worth consideration as I'm judging by this example

Further examples.

'Do you think Mary will Mary me?'

'if what happened to Brian is anything to go by, no, she won't'. (In the past she didn't marry Brian for some reason).

Your friend could turn around and say 'Well, no, we can't go by what happened to Brian, as Brian turned out to have a false leg he tried to keep secret from her, and I've got no secrets!' He is saying that actually, no, Brian's experience isn't a good way to judge how Mary will behave with me as the situations are completely different. Mary's reason for not marrying Brian won't apply to him.

But if Mary didn't marry Brian because she had an awful phobia about getting married, then your comment is a pretty good one.
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