unless + a negative construction

maferaluz

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi there,

I´m working on sentence transformation and I am not sure about the following sentence.

"My uncle would be able to help us if he didn´t work extra hours".


UNLESS___________________________________________________________________________.

This is my attempt:

Unless my uncle didn´t work extra hours, he would be able to help us.


It sounds awkward to me and I know that "unless" is negative and it can´t be followed by a negative verb.

But, what is the best answer then?

I wonder if you can help me. Thanks in advance!
 
  • Forero

    Senior Member
    Unless means, approximately, "if not", so to change if to unless, you need to negate the rest of the subordinate clause. Unless can be followed by a negative verb if it replaces if with a positive:

    My uncle can help us if he gets off work soon enough.
    = My uncle can help us unless he doesn't get off work soon enough.

    But the negative of a negative is a positive:

    My uncle can help us if he doesn't have to stay late at work.
    = My uncle can help us unless he has to stay late at work.

    My uncle will be able to help us if he doesn't work extra hours.
    = Unless my uncle works extra hours, he will be able to help us.

    The thread topic sentence may be the past tense version of my last example:

    My uncle would be able to help us if he didn't work extra hours.
    Unless my uncle worked extra hours, he would be able to help us.
     
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