Let Alone

Lucretia

Senior Member
Russian

Hello,
I’m a little confused when I have to use verbs after let alone.
1. I haven’t enough time to look in the mirror, let alone go to see you.
2. She’s even afraid to answer the telephone, let alone speak in public.
3. He refused to give evidence, to say nothing of pleading guilty.
Is this correct? Are commas necessary?
Thank you.
 
  • Old Novice

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Hello,
    I’m a little confused when I have to use verbs after let alone.
    1. I haven’t enough time to look in the mirror, let alone [to] go to see you.
    2. She’s even afraid to answer the telephone, let alone [to] speak in public.
    3. He refused to give evidence, [to say nothing of pleading] :( guilty.
    Is this correct? Are commas necessary?
    Thank you.

    These are fine for the most part. You do need the comma. I'd put "to"s in both the first two sentences where shown if writing these out, but they might be skipped when speaking. If you do add the "to" to the first sentence, you could keep the "to" after "go" as well, if you wanted.

    "... to say nothing of pleading guilty" is a way you might say it, but switching from "to give" to "pleading" changes the verb form and doesn't read very well, to my eye. I'd keep the "let alone to plead guilty" form in the third sentence.

    Of course, others might disagree. :)
     

    equivoque

    Senior Member
    Australia - English
    "let alone" is an idiom used to emphasize or exaggerate extreme alternatives and I believe it is correct.

    I would use a comma.

    eg: "I am too sick to get out of bed, let alone go to work!"
     

    lexicalia

    Member
    American English
    1. I haven’t enough time to look in the mirror, let alone go to see you.:tick:
    2. She’s even afraid to answer the telephone, let alone speak in public.:tick:
    3. He refused to give evidence, to say nothing of pleading guilty.:tick:
    Is this correct? Are commas necessary?
    Thank you.

    They all sound good to me, and I would use commas. I wouldn't, however put in the "to" before the second verb. It's not incorrect, but totally unnecessary. Since "let alone" is an idiomatic phrase, the "to" can be easily dropped, and in fact to my ear sounds better without it.
     

    danielxu85

    Senior Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Should "let alone" always be used at the end of the sentence? Do you think that I used the phrase "let alone" in the right place? If not, how to make it right? If I still want to keep the "let alone" part in the front of the sentence, what proper phrases could I use to replace "let alone"?

    Compared with the poor, let alone the fact that the rich have more channels to invest, even if they can take a free ride by the annulations of IR tax, it should not be an issue raising controversy.
     

    Siberia

    Senior Member
    UK-Wales - English
    Let alone has the sense of furthering a discussion, that is why it comes later in the sentence. It adds on to what has already been said about the topic - (Not to mention). It wouldn't make any sense at the beginning of a sentence if something else about the same topic hadn't preceded it.
    In your example "compared to the poor" is not giving information about the "rich" so "let alone" is in the wrong place.
     

    danielxu85

    Senior Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    If not, how to make it right? If I still want to keep the "let alone" part in the front of the sentence, what proper phrases could I use to replace "let alone"?
     

    Siberia

    Senior Member
    UK-Wales - English
    You can't have "let alone" or "not to mention" at the beginning of the sentence for the reasons above.
    In your example I would word it: "Compared to the poor, the rich have more channels to invest...............
    It you want to use "let alone" my suggestion would be:
    "The poor don't have many opportunities, let alone all the channels that the rich have to invest and take..............."
     

    danielxu85

    Senior Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Thanks, Siberia!
    If I still want to keep the "let alone" part in the front of the sentence, what proper phrases could I use to replace "let alone"?
     

    Old Novice

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Thanks, Siberia!
    If I still want to keep the "let alone" part in the front of the sentence, what proper phrases could I use to replace "let alone"?

    I agree with Siberia that there is nothing that conveys the meaning of "let alone" that works at the front of a sentence, unless the sentence is the continuation of a longer discussion. If you want to keep the phrase, you aren't going to do much better than Siberia's suggestion in post no. 4.
     

    Orange Blossom

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. English
    Compared with the poor, let alone the fact that the rich have more channels to invest, even if they can take a free ride by the annulations of IR tax, it should not be an issue raising controversy.

    Let alone, or any phrase that means the same, cannot begin a sentence for the reasons already addressed.

    This sentence needs serious revision.

    Here are some other issues that you might need to address in other threads:

    Compared with . . . <-- The rest of the sentence doesn't follow the expected sentence pattern.

    Sample sentence:
    Compared with the light of the winter's moon, the summer moon is dim.

    issue raising controversy <-- This phrase means that the controversy raised issues. I don't think that is what you want to say. Collocations are: create controversy, cause controversy, trigger controversy

    even if they can take <-- Who are 'they' referring to?

    Orange Blossom




     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    Hi,
    “He doesn’t even bother to read letters, let alone answer them.”
    I wonder about the meaning of “let alone answer them” and I guess “he neither reads nor answers the letters.”
    Am I right?
    Thanks.
     

    Trisia

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Hi, Mimi :)

    Yes, you're right.

    It means that, if he doesn't even make the small effort to read his letters, he is certain not to reply (we couldn't possibly expect him to do that :rolleyes::D)

    I don't even bother to say hello when I see a friend, let alone engage in meaningful conversations :p
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    Thank you, rocstar.
    Yes, my guess is right but could you tell me about the usage of it.
    I am familiar with the pattern "Let me see", "let him alone". I mean that after Let is an object; "alone" is an adverb is a big surprise to me.
    Thanks.
     

    lotusfan

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    "let alone answer them" means he doesn't borther to answer the letters either.

    P.S.
    let alone:not to mention
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    Thank you, rocstar.
    Yes, my guess is right but could you tell me about the usage of it.
    I am familiar with the pattern "Let me see", "let him alone". I mean that after Let is an object; "alone" is an adverb is a big surprise to me.
    Thanks.

    Be careful, mimi, in "let me see" and "let him alone", "let" is a verb, but not in "let alone".

    It's more like when you compare the degree of 2 things, for example, if you need more effort to do A than to do B, you would say "I don't even want to do B, let alone/not to mention A".

    I guess the problem is, the expression can mean 2 things (a and b), and you are more familiar with the other meaning (a), while we are talking about b here (see below)

    8.let alone, a.to refrain from annoying or interfering with. b.not to mention: He was too tired to walk, let alone run.
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    Thank you, nichec, for pointing it out to me.
    I understand and thank for your kind help.
     
    Would it be helpful to get the sense of let alone plus a verb or idea as not to mention if it were translated very literally as "permit the verb or idea to be all by itself" and were placed first as the introduction?

    The English construction by convention is almost poetically reversed with the introduction coming last instead of first. If we break the poetry of that and put it in more logical order, we don't have to worry too much about verbs and advebs and double meanings if we think very, very literally, then we would have things like:

    Let alone run --Permit run to be alone (Don't touch the verb or concept run, throw it out, thow it away into another universe all by itself, put aside out of this discussion forever this idea of him running ,that is so ridiculous, and let me tell you why: he was too tired too walk.

    Let alone answer them -- Permit answer them to be alone (Don't touch the concept answer them in regards to my letters ,cut it out, thow it away into another universe all by itself, put aside out of this discussion forever this idea of him answering letters ,that is so ridiculous, and let me tell you why: he never bothered to read my letters.

    In this way, not to mention can be understood as we won't mention it because it is so ridiculous and absurd and we are going to let it alone, and we will shorten the expression to let alone because the "it" is already understood, and now we poetically mean "don't touch."

    Now if we go back to the set English construction and you put it back into poetic disorder with the instruction don't touch, let alone, too ridiculous, coming last instead of first...

    He was too tired to walk, let alone run. (run is too ridiculous now, let alone, don't touch)
    He never bothered to read my letters, let alone answer them. (answer them is too ridiculous now, let alone, don't touch)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It might be just worth adding to Dale Texas's helpful and interesting explanation, that for me the point which most deserves emphasis is the meaning put aside by itself - let (leave) alone.

    Thus he was too tired to walk, let alone run (we can put aside the idea of his running).

    There is a strong a fortiori sense. If he can't walk, obviously (a fortiori) he can't run, (we can put aside - let alone - the idea of his running). He can't walk, let alone run.

    If he doesn't bother to read the letters, obviously (a fortiori) he won't answer them, (we can put aside - let alone - the idea of his answering them). He doesn't bother to read the letters, let alone answer them.
     

    quietdandelion

    Banned
    Formosa/Chinese
    He can't read, let alone/not to mention write.
    We can't afford a car, not to mention/let alone the fact that we have no garage.
    He has a big house and an expensive car, let alone/not to mention a villa in France.


    Is let alone interchangeable and synonymous with not to mention in all contexts? Thanks.
     

    The Scrivener

    Banned
    England. English
    He can't read, let alone/not to mention write.
    We can't afford a car, not to mention/let alone the fact that we have no garage.
    He has a big house and an expensive car, let alone/not to mention a villa in France.


    Is let alone interchangeable and synonymous with not to mention in all contexts? Thanks.

    #1. "........let alone write."

    #2. ".........not to mention the fact."

    #3 ".........not to mention a villa in France."

    Not interchangeable, Dandelion.:)
     

    quietdandelion

    Banned
    Formosa/Chinese
    Thanks, Scriverner, for your reply.
    Oops! I'm color-blind to ( or with??) the two phrases because we don't distinguish them in our language.
    Could you shed more light as for the subtle differences? (For you, they are perhaps very obviously diverse.)
     

    The Scrivener

    Banned
    England. English
    not to mention
    : not even yet counting or considering

    let alone
    : to say nothing of : not to mention —used especially to emphasize the improbability of a contrasting example <he would never walk again let alone play golf>

    Alas, explanations are not my forte, Dandelion. The above quotes are from Merriam-Webster.

    The difference is very subtle, but it is there.

    Perhaps someone else could explain it better for you. :)
     

    quietdandelion

    Banned
    Formosa/Chinese
    Alas, explanations are not my forte, Dandelion. The above quotes are from Merriam-Webster.

    The difference is very subtle, but it is there.

    Perhaps someone else could explain it better for you. :)
    Thanks, Scrivener, for the reply again.
    Someone just told me a rule of thumb that let alone is often followed by a verb while not to mention a noun or a noun phrase. And I have cheched this rule of thumb and found it useful. Nevertheless, there are still exceptions. For example,

    There isn't enough room for us, let alone/not to mention six dogs and a cat.

    The above sample is hard for me to decide which phrase I should use.
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    Hi, QD. I think there are too many exceptions to the rule you mention for it to be useful:

    Mr. XYZ didn't approve of his daughter's relationship with her boyfriend, let alone her marriage to him. (let alone followed by a noun)

    If he goes on at this rate, he's never going to get himself a proper job, let alone enter university.

    I can only think think of let alone/ never you mind following negative statements, and they kind of reinforce what you said by introduncing further information. Not to mention is also used to introduce additional information that makes your prior statement more surprising, eloquent, etc., but it's more frequently found in positive statements:

    She's drop-dead gorgeous -not to mention fabulously rich.

    I find going on holidays as stressful as working -hotel arrangements, flights, planning tours...not to mention the expense, which alway exceeds the budget.

    Not to mention in all sentences where it follows negative statements I can think of now don't relate directly to the prior statement, as in your example:

    We can't afford a car, not to mention the fact that we have no garage.

    Let me show you a few examples and see if you can catch the difference (which, I can't explain, hard as I've been trying):

    We can't afford a car, let alone a speedboat!

    The house doesn't even have a living room, let alone a garage!

    I can't find the time to do the work that's been piling up on my desk, let alone help somebody else do their work.

    There isn't enough room for us, let alone six dogs and a cat. (your sentence)

    I'd rate my chances to get that job as low. I don't have any practical experience with accounting, not to mention that I've been in the company for only six months.

    I've been to Amazon and I don't ever want to go back there -the heat is insufferable, not to mention the swarms of mosquitos pestering you at night.

    I'm hunting for an apartment in Rio de Janeiro, but the cost of living in neighbourhoods such as Ipanema and Gávea are far beyond my means, not to mention Leblon, where you have to be rich to afford the rent of an apartment.

    I hope someone can explain that better to you!
     

    quietdandelion

    Banned
    Formosa/Chinese
    Well put! Macunaima, thank you for the abundant reply.

    I agree with you that your rules are more useful and practical. It seems to me that I have read somewhere something like the following you mentioned:

    I can only think think of let alone/ never you mind following negative statements, and they kind of reinforce what you said by introduncing further information. Not to mention is also used to introduce additional information that makes your prior statement more surprising, eloquent, etc., but it's more frequently found in positive statements:
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    Just let me correct myself, Quietdandalion: in sentences with let alone, it's the first clause that adds to the second, reinforcing its message.

    I cannot afford a car, let alone a speedboat (if I can't afford even a car, which is cheap when compared to a speedboat, consequently I can't afford a speedboat!)

    _ I was thinking of bringing my pets. What do you think?
    _ Are you crazy?! There isn't enough room for the two of us, let alone six dogs and a cat!
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    A few observations.
    Is let alone used a great deal?
    The OED lists let alone as colloquial, meaning not to mention.

    Above, never you mind appears a few times as if it is equivalent to the other two.
    The expression never mind also appears in the OED as colloquial, meaning let alone, not to mention, far less. These are approximately equivalent.
    But it would be very strange to use never you mind in this context. That phrase has other uses, meaning It's none of your business. Perhaps the you was included to help explain this usage (it first appeared in parentheses in post #3 :)).

    So there are four very similar expressions (and probably more):
    ... let alone ...
    ... never mind ...
    ... far less ...
    ... not to mention ...
    Very similar, but not identical in use :)
    I grouped them that way deliberately. It seems to me that the first three are followed by something that is more extreme than what preceded them.
    Not to mention could be followed by more of the same, or something contrasting.
     

    quietdandelion

    Banned
    Formosa/Chinese
    Thanks, panj, for the extra precious knowledge.

    To make sure that I use them right, here are a few samples to test myself, and correct me if I am wrong.

    Linguistics in Chinese is difficult for me, let alone that in English.
    John finds linguistics in English is pretty easy, not to mention that in English.

    I can't speak my own tongue well, let alone English.
    He can speak Greek well, not to mention Chinese. (If he is Chinese)

    John can't save his own soul, let alone others'.
    John can others' souls easily, not to mention his own.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    It's important to note that these forms compare two abilities (or possibilities, etc), the second one of which is more difficult to achieve (or goes further) than the first:

    "He was so drunk he couldn't even walk, let alone ride a bike."
    "I can't speak my own language properly, never mind Chinese!"
    "I can't even afford a skateboard, let alone a car."

    So "John can't save other people's souls, let alone his own" is wrong (assuming saving one's own soul is more achievable than saving those of other people).

    "Not to mention" is different, it refers to something that hardly needs to be stated (but is stated anyway!), since whatever has already been said is sufficient to the argument. This doesn't compare things like the other forms, it adds new information that is not really needed to make the point, but nevertheless reinforces it.
     

    camaysar

    Senior Member
    usa
    usa, english
    Notice that "let alone" is always used after a negative statement. "Not to mention" is usually after a positive, or so it seems.

    Sorry Macunaima.. you already said that!
     

    stevenhang

    Banned
    Japanese
    - I got these two sentences from an English movie:

    Person A: I don't see you around school much these days. Are you busy dating with lots of hot girls?

    - To answer person A's question , Could I say this?

    "I don't even have enough time to study or cook, let alone go out on a date with anyone."

    Thanks very much!
     

    Pidginboy

    Senior Member
    India-Local dialect
    "I don't even have enough time to study or cook, let alone going out on a date with anyone."
     

    cropje_jnr

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    Stevenhang, I think your reply is perfect.

    Pidginboy, I think the tense of 'to go' should match that of 'study' and 'cook'.

    The one thing that strikes me as sounding a little strange is actually in the question: normally I would say 'dating lots of girls', not 'dating with lots of girls' (although there is of course 'going on dates with lots of girls').
     

    roesmets

    New Member
    French
    "We all know that speaking in front of an audience is one of the most stressful experiences one can live, let alone in a foreign language"
    Is let alone correctly used here? I'm not sure any more
     

    Anion

    Senior Member
    UK
    English
    Yes. The use of 'let alone' seems fine to me and very natural. I stumble over 'one can live' a bit; I would probably say "...is one of life's most stressful experiences, let alone in a foreign language" or just omit it.
     

    Gwan

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    I recently read an article which claimed (rightly!) that New Zealand's celebrity scene 'can't be compared with Hollywood, let alone Australia'. I think it should be '...with Australia, let alone Hollywood' - that is, you should put the less impressive item first, then 'let alone', then the more impressive one (if you take my meaning). However, I seem to be seeing the inverted version more and more. Do you guys agree that it's wrong, and has anyone else noticed it becoming more prevalent?
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I can't say that I've seen this incorrect turn of phrase before but you're right - the more impressive comparison should follow "let alone". If people are saying it incorrectly, it's because they don't know any better.
     

    scorpion01

    Member
    "India - Hindi & English"
    Hi all,
    Please help me in understanding the highlighted part of the sentence better,

    I can't remember things that happened 15minutes back, let alone 12hours back .

    Thank you
     
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