Question of sport

July 14, 1995

May I alert readers to the dangers of writing the opposite of what you mean when using the phrase "there is no question that"? I have found cricket commentators especially using it to assert something positively. There, the events of the game will usually clarify the meaning; but in other contexts ambiguity might arise.

Your correspondent, Ian Masser (THES, July 7), wrote "there is no question that the universities take the advice . . . ". From the context, one gathers that he meant "there is no doubt that . . . ", but current educated usage would give it the opposite meaning. So, if you want to use "question" rather than "doubt" in that way, you should write "there is no question but that . . . ". See Michael Dummett's Grammar and Style (Duckworth, 1993) p.49.

MICHAEL BULLEY Hythe Road, Ashford, Kent

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