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The original sentences:

In the anxiety to get dubious, restless characters out of the country no questions were asked as to nationality, previous record or history, and no proof of identity was required. The name and particulars given by the recruit were accepted at face value and many gave noms de guerre*, for understandable reasons.

*Pseudonyms

I like to confirm the subject of the first sentence is "restless characters" and "no questions" here is used as an adverb, meaning undoubtly.

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  • I would suggest that there should be a comma following the word country.
    – Lee Mac
    May 25, 2019 at 23:39

1 Answer 1

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No, the idiom you might be thinking of is "no question", meaning, as you say, "undoubtedly".

Here, the word "questions" is just a plural noun with the standard meaning. It is modified by "no", and is the subject of a clause which uses the passive voice verb, "were asked". So removing all the extra modifying phrases, the kernel of that clause is "no questions were asked."

The whole introductory phrase, "In the anxiety to get dubious, restless characters out of the country" is just a prepositional phrase acting as an "adverbial" explaining the reason "no questions were asked". Since it comes before the main clause, it really should have a comma after it (between "country" and "no").

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  • Thanks, Lorel. If I dig down a little bit deeper, can I say the noun phrase "restless characters out of the country" modifies "the anxiety"?
    – Charlie
    May 25, 2019 at 23:52
  • @Charlie - Not exactly. "dubious, restless characters" by itself, is a noun phrase. You could say that the entire phrase, "to get d., r., characters out of the country" (all of that including the verb "to get") was a modifier of "the anxiety", but I wouldn't call that long phrase a noun phrase, since it contains a verb.
    – Lorel C.
    May 26, 2019 at 0:24
  • Got it, thanks , Lorel.
    – Charlie
    May 26, 2019 at 5:09

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