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Showing posts from November, 2012

WNW: A Twitchy Mistake: "Let Alone"

Some time ago, two friends (Sarah M. Eden and TJ Bronley), brought up a grammatical pet peeve they shared: the misuse of "let alone."

It was one of those things that I hadn't noticed too much . . . until someone pointed it out. Turns out that yep, people do use this one wrong, and with somewhat alarming frequency.

Here's how you use "let alone": 
"Let alone" ups the stakes. Generally, the speaker/writer is referring to two things, one much bigger/worse/awful/awesome than the other.

Rules of thumb: 
(1) The smaller "less wow" item is first.
(2) The item with the biggest "wow" factor is mentioned second, after "let alone."

And that is where people make the mistake: by putting "let alone" next to the lesser item.


Example #1 (courtesy TJ)
Incorrect: 
Five-year-old Timmy asked for a pet, but we aren't getting a pony, let a lone a dog.

Here, the sentence implies that a pony is a common pet, while a dog (a DOG!) is s…