Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A skiing problem

Here's an interesting one.

One of my PhD students based in SE Asia, who teaches English language proficiency classes among other things, asked me what the correct response to this statement would be from the list of four options, because it appears on a test of English language proficiency.  She said the teachers had all been arguing about it.

I'll post the item here and then you can let me know what you think the answer is.

A: I'll never go skiing again.

B: (select one)
i.    Me too.
ii.   Me so.
iii.  Me neither.
iv.  Me either.

Your responses please!


  1. Me so is not Standard English (or any English I know of), so that's the "completely wrong" answer. Me too is appropriate in response to an affirmatively phrased statement, so that's the "common error" answer. Me neither is what I would say, but based on my long experience of having to suss out what set of ignorant prejudices test-makers are working with, I suspect that they consider this the "nearly right" answer, and me either the correct answer.

    (I'm not sure where this system of devising four-answer multiple-choice questions, with a completely wrong, common error, nearly right, and correct answer, comes from. I first saw it in print about 30-40 years ago.)

  2. Thanks John. I was hoping for a flood of comments! I'll re-post on Twitter and see if I get any more.

  3. Given free choice, I would say "Nor me." or "Neither will I."
    From the multi choice, the only one I might use is "Me neither", for the reasons John has said. I would NOT say "Me either.", even if it was logically correct, which I'm not sure it is.

  4. Now you see, I would say "Neither will I". I don't feel comfortable with any of the options above, although (iii) is the lesser of the four evils.

    The discussion I got into with my student was about exactly that. She asked which I'd say (not which was right) and I said I wouldn't respond with any of them. Then we had a discussion about American English and I said, although I thought (iii) was probably correct, I'd certainly heard (iv) many times from AmE speakers.

    This begs the question of what we're testing here.

  5. As a foreign language learner, I would choose “Me neither.”

  6. Hmm. I'd say none of these, although I'd accept "me neither" (so long as it's pronounced "mee neether"), since it's a frequently heard formulation. "Me too" sounds like the speaker wasn't listening to the original remark (failure to repeat the negative); "me so" is just not any kind of English; "me either" doesn't make sense without an expressed negative ("nor me either").

    So what WOULD I say? "Nor will I" or "Neither will I".

    Is it just my impression, or are these "Nor can I", "nor did you", "nor would they" type expressions simply not taught very much at all in EFL?

    1. You're right, Kevin. "Neither will I" seems to be too difficult for the common student, so teachers will favour "Me neither" because this doesn't require much thinking. In Spanish, we would say:
      - Yo también (Me too).
      - Yo tampoco (Me neither).

  7. I'd be interested to see what other posters thought, Kevin.

  8. And this is why I despise multiple choice questions, spit, spit, spit.

    1. Particularly when they ask this sort of question ...

  9. In order of preference, for me:
    Nor me! | Nor will I! | Neither will I!

  10. For me, me neither and neither will I are both available answers, but they differ in register, and there isn't enough information to determine which register is appropriate. If neither will I had been offered as a choice, I would have picked it, again based on my knowledge of the prejudices of test-makers ("informal = incorrect" in this case).

  11. Sorry, late for class...

    Those four answers just made me uncomfortable, but I'd agree with the "accept (iii) if you *have* to choose one" consensus. However... here in Australia, the common response would be "me either", which makes me grind my teeth every time I hear it. "You wanted to move to Australia", my Aussie wife says...