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  1. wotcha's Avatar
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    #1

    Did you meet somebody/anybody?

    We normally put 'some' in a interrogative and positive sentences and use 'any' in a negative sentences.

    My question here is


    "Do you meet somebody?" is grammatical.


    Thank you in advance.

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    #2

    Re: Did you meet somebody/anybody?

    It is grammatical, but the meaning is a bit obscure. The issue that seems to arise is this: somebody is (as Merriam-Webster defines it) "one or some person of unspecified identity" and anybody is "any person at all." So there's an assumption that the somebody could be a specific (possibly important) person.

    Somebody
    "I go on longs walks each Thursday night."
    "Do you meet somebody?"
    "Yes, I meet Craig; we're dating."
    or
    "No, nobody's there for me." (An expectation has been denied and, to be honest, the encounter ends up being rather negative.)

    Anybody
    "I go on long walks each Thursday night."
    "Do you meet anybody?"
    "No, it's quite desolate in that part of the world."
    or
    "Yes, but I don't really speak as we pass." (meet here meaning to merely pass by, as meeting a car in oncoming traffic.)

    I hope that I was helpful. A lot of this is contextual, so what I've pointed out may not hold true for every sentence.

    J. Jones

    P.S.

    In re-reading your original post, it occurred to me that your title line is, in fact, "Did you meet somebody/anybody." I feel that the points I made still hold true of the two words, regardless of the particular tense of the verb.
    Last edited by William Jones; 22-May-2012 at 06:56. Reason: Proven insane.

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    #3

    Re: Did you meet somebody/anybody?

    Quote Originally Posted by wotcha View Post
    We normally put 'some' in a interrogative and positive sentences and use 'any' in a negative sentences. .

    I do not think "normally" is the mot juste here. Oftentimes we use 'any' as opposed to 'some' outside non-assertive contexts. Consult the relevant section in Swan's PEU.

    Practical English Usage | Oxford University Press

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Did you meet somebody/anybody?

    Quote Originally Posted by William Jones View Post
    'Somebody' is a pronoun[...]; anybody is a noun (not a pronoun)
    Both 'somebody' and 'anybody' function in the same way. They are both pronouns.
    Somebody
    "I go on longs walks each Thursday night."
    "Do you meet somebody?"
    "Yes, I meet Craig; we're involved."
    or
    "No, nobody's there for me."
    'We're involved' is not a natural thing to say, in my opinion. The speaker is more likely to say something like 'I meet Craig, my boyfriend'.

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    #5

    Re: Did you meet somebody/anybody?

    Foolish me; that's what I get for being up late and misreading. It's true, they are both pronouns and can work equally well. You've got me there. I'll amend the post to prevent misinformation.

    As to my unnatural selection of dialogue, that was an attempt at snark. I do apologize for that.
    Last edited by William Jones; 22-May-2012 at 06:57.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Did you meet somebody/anybody?

    Quote Originally Posted by Finicky View Post
    I do not think "normally" is the mot juste here. Oftentimes we use 'any' as opposed to 'some' outside non-assertive contexts. Consult the relevant section in Swan's PEU.

    Practical English Usage | Oxford University Press
    As many visitors to this site may not have a copy of PEU to hand, it would be useful if you quoted/summarised what Swan says. Actually, in my third edition (2005.539-40, he writes, "Both some and any can refer to an indefinite quantity or number.[...] Some is most common in affirmative clauses. Any (used in this sense) is a 'non-affirmative' word, and is common in questions and negatives. [...] The differences between somebody and anybody etc are the same as the differences between some and any.'.


    Michael Lewis, In The English Verb (1986.34) sums up the situation rather differently, 'Both some and any are used with indefinite reference.
    Some is used if the idea is restricted or limited in some way.
    Any is used if the idea is unrestricted or unlimited.
    [...] the restriction may be a real one [...]or a psychological one existing only in the mind of the speaker.'

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    #7

    Re: Did you meet somebody/anybody?

    What Michael Lewis points out is a more succinct version of what I was attempting to get at. Thanks for finding a valid source to make the point.

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