2
  1. Most people in this country do not yet tolerate cultural freedom, let alone to demand it.

  2. Most people in this country are not yet in a position to tolerate cultural freedom, let alone to demand it.

Are 1 and 2 equally correct? I think if it is to+verb after let alone, then in the previous part of the sentence there should be a to+verb structure too. With that argument 2 is the better/correct choice. Am I right?

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  • 1
    I have to say, a question about let alone with three answers should involve at least one who's heard of and can link to Fillmore, Kay, and O'Connor's classic paper "Regularity and Idiomaticity in Grammatical Constructions: The Case of Let Alone", Language, Vol. 64, No.3 (Sep., 1988) pp 501-538. Sep 7, 2022 at 15:35
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    @JohnLawler It should not be closed in the first place. Why on earth should such a question be closed as off-topic?
    – Sasan
    Sep 7, 2022 at 19:14
  • @JohnLawler This site needs and wants more answers like what you just gave. Consider making an answer out of it rather than voting to close.
    – Mitch
    Sep 8, 2022 at 17:35
  • There it is; why should I make another Official Answer out of it? I've already posted on let alone; does it really need more? As for the question, the first sentence is ungrammatical -- demand is like tolerate, a to-less infinitive that's required after do. The second one is OK. Sep 8, 2022 at 18:21
  • @JohnLawler I don’t thing your answer for the other question specifically considers what here is at issue. Like Mitch, I think an answer here would be a good idea focusing on whether a parallel is required or not.
    – Sasan
    Sep 8, 2022 at 18:37

3 Answers 3

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I presume the correctness you seek refers to whether the sentences are formulated correctly, nothing beyond that. Given that, these comments/edits:

  1. Most people in this country does not yet tolerate cultural freedom, let alone to demand it.

Your second sentence is fine, maintaining a welcome parallel use of to (albeit one not required, as @fev points out). I do find the sentence nonsensical though, since intolerance of cultural freedom cannot be forced on people, generally.

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  • Do you find only the second sentence nonsensical? How does it imply that non-toleration can be forced on people?
    – Sasan
    Sep 7, 2022 at 8:17
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    @Sasan yes, only the second is nonsensical. How can a free-thinking person fail to be "in a position" to tolerate a concept like freedom? Has her brain been switched off by something? Hopefully that clarifies my statement/impression of nonsense.
    – AllTrades
    Sep 7, 2022 at 8:23
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    I think the semantic confusion arises because in this context, cultural freedom actually refers to the freedom of other people (immigrants, non-native to "this country") being able to continue their cultural practices in their new home. But obviously most people are the actual natives, so it's not their freedom being exercised. It would make more sense to say Most people in this country do not yet tolerate cultural diversity. But some confusion will always be there - it will always be the (growing) immigrant community demanding freedoms that the natives tolerate. Sep 7, 2022 at 10:51
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I will complete what the others said, by arguing that both sentences are correct without to, after let alone (although in the second sentence it is not incorrect to use to for symmetry's sake).

Note that let alone in itself, is an idiom that does not necessarily require the infinitival to. Also, when you have a parallel structure headed by TO, it is not compulsory to use it in the second element of the structure. Here is an example from Collins

It is incredible that the 12-year-old managed to even reach the pedals, let alone drive the car.

As I said in a comment, in your second sentence, the first to before "tolerate" can be the common head of the parallel structure. So whether you put the to or leave it out, the sentence remains correct.

Most people in this country are not yet in a position to tolerate cultural freedom, let alone (to) demand it.

This is more evident if you re-write your sentence as:

Most people in this country are not yet in a position to tolerate, let alone demand, cultural freedom.

Here, a second to after "let alone" would be repetitive and clumsy.

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You are correct, although the first sentence can be easily repaired. The phrasal conjunction "let alone" may be used as a coordinator, in which case the conjuncts should be parallel. In the first sentence, the first conjunct is headed by the bare infinitive "tolerate", so the second should be headed by a bare infinitive, as well.¹ Thus, "to demand" should become "demand":

Most people in this country do not yet tolerate cultural freedom, let alone demand it.

In the second sentence, the first conjunct is headed by the full infinitive "to tolerate", so the second should be headed by a full infinitive, as well. Thus, "to demand" is correct:

Most people in this country are not yet in a position to tolerate cultural freedom, let alone to demand it.

Note that the first "to" may apply to both conjuncts, so it is possible for the second one to be omitted (via conjunction reduction):

Most people in this country are not yet in a position to tolerate cultural freedom, let alone demand it.


¹ The conjuncts are headed by bare infinitives because they are dependents of the auxiliary verb "do".

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  • The second sentence can be fine without to. The first to before "tolerate" can be the common head of the parallel structure. So whether you put the to or leave it out, the sentence remains correct.
    – fev
    Sep 7, 2022 at 7:53
  • @fev Yes, I agree entirely. I've edited to make that clearer. Thanks! Sep 7, 2022 at 8:01

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