grammatical expression: let alone

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Today I’d like to write about another very commonly used expression which I’ve never seen any textbook teach: “let alone”. This expression is used when we are talking about two negative facts. First, we talk about one negative fact, and then we use “let alone” to emphasize that the second negative fact is stronger than the first one. I know this is confusing, so let me give you some examples:

A: Can you drive a bus?

B: Are you kidding? I can’t drive a car, let alone a bus.

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A: I need to borrow $1000.

B: I’m sorry, but I don’t have even $100, let alone $1000.

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A: Is your sister married?

B: No, she doesn’t have much luck with men. She can’t find a boyfriend, let alone a husband.

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A: Does your boyfriend want to go to London with us this summer?

B: No way! He doesn’t like travelling within the country, let alone overseas.

So, when using this expression, the sentences are always in the negative. As you can see, we don’t repeat the entire sentence after “let alone”. So, it’s not common to say, “I can’t drive a car, let alone drive a bus.” In English, generally speaking we don’t like to repeat words within one sentence unless it’s to emphasize something. Therefore, most people will say, “I can’t drive a car, let alone a bus.” without repeating the verb “drive”.

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