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Wednesday, 04 November 2015 11:53

How to use "given their due" and "not least of all"--Ask Scott Dreyer

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This question came from Ms. Chen, in Central Taiwan, via email.


Q. "The human race has found ways to celebrate just about everything the world has to offer- culture, history, art. Even a few beloved foods are given their due, not least of all chocolate, honored at the Salon du Chocolat."


1. What does " due " mean here and how can we use it?


2. I know "least" means a small amount, little, and I know "at least" but " not least "?   What does it mean? How can we use it? Is it common in oral talking?


A. Hi, Ms. Chen, it is a pleasure to hear from you! Thanks for asking this good, "double-barreled" question.

1. Like many English words, "due" can mean several things. It's most common meaning is "deadline," like "Your project is due next Monday."
(side note: a few years ago I had two Chinese students and told them "Your project is due next Monday." They came to class Monday, with NO poster. When I asked them about it, they replied, "We thought you said we would do it in class on Monday.")

But back to your question: in this case, the phrase "given their due" means "to be given the proper respect or attention," or "to treat someone fairly."


Even though I disagreed with Betty on a few things, I wanted to give her her due and let her have her say. (Yes, this has "her" twice in a row.)


We wanted to give our boss her due on Boss's day so we all chipped in and got her some flowers.


So in this case it means, some foods are given a lot of respect, and chocolate is one of those.


2. And again, you are right about "least." It can mean "the smallest amount."


Charles got the least ice cream of everyone, because he was late.


"At least" can be a part of an explanation.


Bobby runs really slow, but at least he finishes his races.

"Least of all" means of the smallest importance, so "not least of all" means NOT of the smallest importance, or "notably" or "particularly." It is not often heard in oral speaking, but you might hear it now and then.


Daisy is a cute dog with many adorable traits, not least of all her trick where she can patiently balance a treat on the end of her nose until you tell her to eat it.


Taiwan has many fascinating tourist sites, not least of all are Kenting Beach and Taroko Gorge.


So what the sentence you found is saying is:  "We people have founds lots of ways to celebrate and enjoy the finer things of life, including some really popular foods, and chocolate is a great example of a food that is honored at the Salon du Chocolat.

Thanks for asking! You can send your questions about the English language or life in the USA to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and maybe yours will be answered next!

Read 19992 times Last modified on Thursday, 01 February 2018 14:46
Scott Dreyer

A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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