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I sometimes find hard to understand negation in Eng sentences especially when I do some tests. Could you help me to sort out this problem please.

  • The bad weather stopped us from finishing the game so we were unable to continue the match.
  • ……
    1. So did we.
    2. Neither were they.
    3. They were either
    4. So were we.

I chose answer 2 but the key shows 4. Why?

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    The echo sentence 'So were we' matches '[W]e were unable to continue the match', but it doesn't sound idiomatic to my British ears. I'd expect a paraphrased echo such as 'We were rained off too.' The given sentence has more than a hint of redundancy; some tests are better avoided. Commented May 4, 2017 at 10:46
  • @EdwinAshworth It sounds perfectly fine to my Russian ear. It matches and it's the correct answer. Commented May 5, 2017 at 6:58
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    @Sovereign Sun I suspect that I have more practice in judging idiomaticity in English. I wouldn't presume, of course, to suggest to you what sounds natural in your mother tongue. Commented May 5, 2017 at 9:28
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    @Sovereign The primary (and hence default, and the one I'm assuming will be understood on a site aimed at English linguists) sense of 'idiomatic' is 'sounding natural to and commonly used by proficient Anglophones'. I'd assume anyone echoing 'The bad weather stopped us from finishing the game so we were unable to continue the match.' (which is itself very clumsy; I'd expect 'The weather got so bad we were unable to continue the match.') with 'So were we' not to be a fluent native speaker. 'That's what happened in our match too', perhaps. Commented May 5, 2017 at 21:51
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    @SovereignSun ELU and ELL are intended for analysing real English, not the misconceptions of foreign examiners. Commented May 6, 2017 at 7:37

1 Answer 1

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In your sentence The bad weather stopped us from finishing the game so we were unable to continue the match. the construction we were unable with neither would create a double negative - Neither were we unable meaning We were able that's why we use the positive So were we - We too were unable.

If it were The bad weather stopped us from finishing the game so we weren't able to continue the match. then Neither were we would be the correct answer; Neither were we able meaning We weren't able also. The So were we wouldn't be correct since it would mean We too were able.

As for the other 3 answers:

  1. So did we can't be the correct answer, in order for it to be one we need to rephrase the sentence The bad weather stopped us from finishing the game so we discontinued the match.

  2. Neither were they is also incorrect. Since The bad weather stopped us from finishing the game so we were unable to continue the match. is like the second example that I described.

  3. They were either is plain wrong.

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  • Feel free to correct me. Commented May 5, 2017 at 6:59
  • Thanks alot for your comment. I could't contact you personally though. I am new here.
    – Oyster
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 17:08

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