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No problem!
There won't be any fruit salad in question 4!

No problem!

'No problem' challenges you on Negatives.

Positive statements are one thing ... but how confident are you when dealing with Negatives? As with so many other structures, negatives in English may work differently from those in your own language, and at this level you'll need to do more than just say 'no'. Try these!

The first six Questions have three Answers which say more or less the same thing and are OK in English, so you need to pick out the one that's not so good or clear; the last few (i.e. from Question 7 onwards) only contain one good Answer, so you must pick out just that one.

1.
Three of these versions are alternatives in good English; which one is NOT good?
Never have I been more grateful to hear a police siren.
I haven't ever been more grateful to hear a police siren.
I've never been more grateful to hear a police siren.
Never haven't I been grateful to hear a police siren.
Answer 4 has too many negative elements in it; each of the others only has one.
2.
Three of these versions are alternatives in good English; which one is NOT good?
She did nothing to make them feel any more comfortable.
She's not done anything to make them feel no more comfortable.
She didn't do anything to make them feel any more comfortable.
She hasn't done anything to make them feel any more comfortable.
Again, Answer 2 contains two negative elements (' ... not ... ' / ' ... no more ...' ), which in English is one too many.
3.
Three of these versions are alternatives in good English; which one is NOT good?
We can't complete this project unless someone puts up the money.
We can't complete this project if nobody puts up the money.
We can't complete this project unless no-one puts up the money.
We can't complete this project until somebody puts up the money.
The project will not continue unless, or until, some (positive) person contributes the funds. The version of the conditional clause in Answer 3 is just plain silly, if you look at it carefully ~ with its negative inside. It seems to suggest that the only way forward would be for nobody to help pay for it, which hardly makes sense at all!
4.
Three of these versions are alternatives in good English; which one is NOT good?
None of these bushes has borne much fruit this year.
None of these bushes has borne any fruit this year.
Most of these bushes haven't borne any fruit this year.
One of these bushes haven't borne no fruit this year.
Answer 4 is a grammatical mess, with a plural verb form after 'one' and that double negative later (' haven't ... no ... ').
5.
Three of these versions are alternatives in good English; which one is NOT good?
I'm afraid there was no more sugar in the kitchen.
I'm afraid there wasn't any more sugar in the kitchen.
I'm afraid there weren't no more sugar in the kitchen.
I'm afraid I couldn't find any more sugar in the kitchen.
Sugar is uncountable, of course ... so the plural verb 'weren't' is wrong (though you may hear this form in certain local or non-standard versions of English, and its meaning remains otherwise reasonably clear).
6.
Three of these versions are alternatives in good English; which one is NOT good?
He and his wife have never mentioned it again.
Neither he nor his wife has ever mentioned it again.
He hasn't ever mentioned it again, and nor has his wife.
Haven't he nor his wife ever mentioned it again?
Plenty of English speakers and writers might produce the version in Answer 4, but technically it's wrong because the verb 'haven't' is plural, so it doesn't agree directly with 'he'. The situation appears to be that some secret might emerge if either one of them were to talk about it (he OR she); one would be enough. For that reason too, the plural verb is unhelpful.
7.
Which is the ONLY ONE correct way of expressing this idea?
Fred couldn't find the spare blades somewhere.
Fred couldn't find the spare blades everywhere.
Fred couldn't find the spare blades nowhere.
Fred couldn't find the spare blades anywhere.
He may have tried looking everywhere (Answer 2) but could NOT find them ANYwhere.
(Similar to NOT knowing ANYthing or NOT meeting ANYone at ANY time ... there need only usually ever be ONE negative element.)
8.
Which is the ONLY ONE correct way of expressing this idea?
The Town Council won't never relax their parking rules anywhen.
The Town Council won't ever relax their parking rules for nobody.
The Town Council won't never relax their parking rules nowhere.
The Town Council won't ever relax their parking rules for anybody.
Answer 4 is the only one with just one single negative element in it (check carefully!).
9.
Which is the ONLY ONE correct way of expressing this idea?
These children cannot no way be held responsible for what happened.
These children can't nohow be held responsible for what happened.
These children cannot be held in any way responsible for what happened.
These children cannot be held anyhow responsible for what happened.
'Not in any way' is the nub of the correct version here.
'Nohow' (Answer 2) probably ought to exist ~ it'd be useful ~ but the only place you may see it in print is in one of the 'Alice' fantasy books of Lewis Carroll, during a conversation between the twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
10.
Which is the ONLY ONE correct way of expressing this idea?
Nobody doesn't understand his problems.
Nobody don't understand his problems.
Nobody understands his problems.
Nobody isn't understanding his problems.
We do not need a 'do' auxiliary here at all (and if we did, we don't need a second negative element after 'Nobody...'); nor do we need an emphatic present continuous form (Answer 4; here, also, with an extra & unnecessary second negative element).
Author:  Ian Miles

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