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  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
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    Default have won any medal at all?

    "At all" is normally used for negative or question sentences, and in those cases I can understand the meaning, but what is the below usage in a statement? Is it anyhow or something?

    ex)Olympic athletes who win bronze medals might be happier than those who win silver medals. Researchers who interviewed Olympic athletes found that silver medalists tended to speak about what they could have done differently, while bronze medalists focused on how excited they were to have won any medal at all......

  2. #2
    JMurray is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: have won any medal at all?

    keannu.
    I'm not sure how to describe this usage except to say that it's mainly a matter of emphasis.
    Some other examples:
    Business has been so bad I'm lucky to have any money left at all.
    Please bring some food to the party, anything at all, I'm sure it will be tasty.
    The summer has been short so we'll be lucky to get any sun at all from here on.

    not a teacher

  3. #3
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    Default Re: have won any medal at all?

    'At all' is used with negative ideas: I have no money at all. I have hardly any money at all;

    It is also used with a 'near-negative idea' in questions and affirmative statements:

    Have you any money at all
    ? (perhaps you are not without a single penny)
    He'll repay me next year - if at all. (I think it possible that he will not repay me).

    In the original sentence, the bronze medalists nearly did not receive a medal.

  4. #4
    JMurray is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: have won any medal at all?

    Thanks Fivejj. I guess I'm on the wrong track in saying "at all" functions mainly as an emphasis. How does my second example fit with your explanation, as it's an opening up of the options rather than involving a negative?
    Last edited by JMurray; 29-Mar-2011 at 12:42.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: have won any medal at all?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMurray View Post
    I guess I'm on the wrong track in saying "at all" functions mainly as an emphasis. Not at all. I agree with you entirely. The only reason I did not mention that in my post was because you had already covered it.
    How does my second example fit with your explanation, as it's an opening up of the options rather than involving a negative?
    Please bring some food to the party, anything at all, I'm sure it will be tasty.

    Well, I have to admit that my 'near-negative idea is a little nebulous.

    As far as 'any' is concerned, I like Michel Lewis's idea*: "Some is used if the idea is restricted or limited in some way. Any is used if the idea is unrestricted or unlimited" (my emphasis added). So, in your sentence, the choice of what you can bring is not limited; it does not matter what you bring.

    How does that sound?

    * Lewis, Michael (1985) The English Verb, Hove: LTP

  6. #6
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: have won any medal at all?

    In this case, 'any' implies the risk of 'none at all'.

    b

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