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I am not a native English speaker, but I consider myself to have a solid knowledge of the language, obtained through years of reading foreign literature. I am also an amateur writer, who's now starting to write short stories in English, to publish on sci-fi and horror magazines.

I am asking this question here because I am willing to use the 'lest' contraction in a sentence. The way I constructed the sentence looks right to me, but I can't feel sure if I indeed used it correctly. Several questions about the usage of 'lest' were already asked, but since I do not possess a deep understanding of the English language (self-learner here), I am still confused about if I can or can't use it.

The sentence in question is the following:

I definitely wasn't that much popular. Very few people even talked to me, lest be my friends. But, at least, even fewer dared to bother me.

In this sentence, I tried to use 'lest' to give a sense of 'let alone be my friends'. I chose 'lest' instead because it sounded better.

Examples of similar questions are:

Can I use "lest" in the following sentence?

Is this the right use of the word 'lest' in this sentence?

Is this usage of "lest" possible?

Using 'lest' in a sentence

Again, I am not a native speaker, and a self-learner, so pardon me if the question is somewhat already answered on any of these links.

Thanks in advance!

  • You are probably aiming for 'I definitely wasn't very popular. Very few people would even talk to me, far less become my friends. But, at least, even fewer dared to bother me.' 'Far less become my friends' means 'and the idea of them actually becoming my friends was laughable.' – Edwin Ashworth Nov 28 '17 at 20:15
  • This small sentence references a previous one, about this character's best friend, who was the most popular dude on school, so I believe 'that' here is good. That said, your suggestion is great, I loved how fluid and beautiful it sounds. Thanks! – Eduardo W. Nov 29 '17 at 18:04
  • The existing Q&A about "lest" suggests a test: replace it with "for fear that". Have you tried this? – MetaEd Dec 4 '17 at 17:59
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Here's the definition of lest:

with the intention of preventing (something undesirable); to avoid the risk of

The word is used improperly in the context you provided. I think you actually meant to say save for my friends, where "save" has the same meaning as "except". This would suggest no one except your friends spoke to you.

Now, you could also say the following, but it would have a different meaning than what you're looking for:

Very few people even talked to me, lest they become my friends.

Which would imply people avoided talking to you for fear of becoming 'friends' with you (they weren't interested in drawing your attention and giving you the wrong idea or suggesting they'd like to be friends with you, so they avoided talking to you altogether).

  • That's precisely the kind of feedback I needed! The character I am building for this story (who's actually telling the story, that's the reason for me to write on the first person) is almost your textbook school weirdo, so pretty much no one talked to him. Thanks!! – Eduardo W. Nov 28 '17 at 16:44

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