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How would you explain “if nothing else” in the context?

 

Sometimes the staff would come by my cell and see a new collection of marks. They were never able to distinguish new marks from old ones, but a few of the guards had a sense of what the volume was before they’d gotten their forty-eight hours off, or gone on vacation, and they recognized, if nothing else, when the randomness expanded.

How would you explain “if nothing else” in the context?
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For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language

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    Best Answer - Chosen by the Asker
    "If nothing else," as used here, is a figure of speech that we use to express that a particular idea is so obvious that anyone would be able to understand it or "pick up" on it. It is usually used in situations where there are many ideas that a situation can convey, but those other ideas might be more complicated to understand.

    In the case of this paragraph, the guards only recognized one aspect of the "marks" on the cell: when there were generally more or less of them. There were other things about those marks to notice, right? Whether they were new or old, or maybe whether there was a pattern to them. However, the writer is saying that *at the least* the guards could see the one difference: whether there were generally fewer or more marks.

    It can also be used to highlight a single benefit in a situation that seems like it has very little benefit. Here's an example:

    "I know this wash cloth is very expensive and really ugly, but, if nothing else, it will wipe up spilled wine out of my carpet!"

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