Kid is reluctant at first, saying he did not complete the combat training needed, only for Mifune to tell him, "Neither did I."

What is the meaning of this sentence: only for Mifune to tell him?

  • The underlying idea is of circumstantial irony. Kid's reluctance had been unnecessary. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 24 '16 at 9:03
  • The quotation is not idiomatic. We don't use "tell" with direct quotes. Idiomatic would be "...only for Mifune to say to him 'Neither did I'" or "only to have Mifune say to him 'Neither did I'". Kid learns that he had no reason to be reluctant. The facts have made his worry nugatory. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 24 '16 at 9:58
  • @TRomano Actually, tell is used with both active and passive forms. There are some restrictions (e.g. * M told "Hello" is not idiomatic), but the OP's quote is fine. The reporting of direct quotes is quite flexible: M said, "Hello". M shouted, "Hello!". "Hello," M told him. "Hello," M groused. Etc. – Lawrence Sep 24 '16 at 23:01
  • @Lawrence. Then please explain why we can't tell hello but we can tell neither do I. Is it the presence of the indirect object him that makes the OP's statement acceptable and idiomatic to your ears? Could we then say tell him hello? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 25 '16 at 10:28
  • @TRomano I think it might be because the phrase "only for Mifune to tell him," (the presence of the comma is significant) leads to an expectation that the next part is a direct quote of what Mifune told him. Without the comma, the expectation is reported speech. That is, we're considering the pattern "M tells N, X", where N is a noun phrase (whoever M is 'telling'), and X is the communication. For example, Mickey tells Minnie, "I have a present for you", but Micky tells Minnie he has a present for her. ... – Lawrence Sep 25 '16 at 13:02

The intent is something like this:

Kid is reluctant at first, saying he did not complete the combat training needed, which was meaningless/irrelevant since Mifune told him, "Neither did I.

The basic idea is Kid's idea and statement (not having any training) did not have any impact or influence on Mifune. Regardless of what was mentioned, his response would have been the same.

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