somebody/anybody

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FW

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Could you explain the difference between:

1-I haven't seen somebody.
2-I haven't seen anybody.
 

RonBee

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"I haven't seen anybody" means: "I haven't seen any person." I am unfamiliar with the other expression ("I haven't seen somebody"). Can you supply some context for it?

:)
 
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FW

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Thanks for your answer. Generally when the sentence is in the negative one has to use "anyone" and not "someone". But I think in some contexts, "someone" might be acceptable.

a)
-He was driving at breakneck speed.
-He was lucky he didn't kill someone.
(This is the best example I can come up with. Does it sound wrong to you?)

b)
-He drives at breakneck speed.
-He is lucky he hasn't killed someone.

c)
-He is accused of theft.
-He might be a bit of a thug, but he wouldn't rob someone.
(I am less certain of this one. "Anyone" would probably be better. But do you think "someone" is wrong here?)

d)
And as for my original sentence:
-I am sure he has seen someone.
-I am telling you, he hasn't seem someone.
(Again, I am not sure that this one is acceptable. There is of-course one other meaning that can be attributed to this sentence if it is spoken and not written: "someone" might refer to someone specific and might be used as a "euphemism". For instance: "someone" = Mary. In this case it would be accentuated.)

I might sound as if I am ponificating, but actually I am not at all sure of what I am saying. These examples should be considered as questions.
(Pontificating is a word I learnt recently. )
 

Tdol

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Someone works here. ;-)
 

RonBee

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FW said:
a)
-He was driving at breakneck speed.
-He was lucky he didn't kill someone.
(This is the best example I can come up with. Does it sound wrong to you?)

More likely:

  • A: He was driving at breakneck speed.
    B: He was lucky he didn't kill somebody.

It seems that "someone" is at least possible.

FW said:
b)
-He drives at breakneck speed.
-He is lucky he hasn't killed someone.

  • A: He drives at breakneck speed.
    B: He is lucky he hasn't killed somebody/someone.

The first choice seems to me to be more likely, but not by much. Use either one.

FW said:
c)
-He is accused of theft.
-He might be a bit of a thug, but he wouldn't rob someone.
(I am less certain of this one. "Anyone" would probably be better. But do you think "someone" is wrong here?)

  • A: He is accused of theft.
    B: He might be a bit of a thug, but he wouldn't rob anybody.

  • A: Would you rob someone if you had the chance and you thought you could get away with it?
    B: No. I would never rob anybody.

I wouldn't say "someone" is exactly wrong, but I think "anybody" is more likely in such a context.

FW said:
d)
And as for my original sentence:
-I am sure he has seen someone.
-I am telling you, he hasn't seem someone.
(Again, I am not sure that this one is acceptable. There is of-course one other meaning that can be attributed to this sentence if it is spoken and not written: "someone" might refer to someone specific and might be used as a "euphemism". For instance: "someone" = Mary. In this case it would be accentuated.)

  • A: I am sure he has seen someone.
    B: I am telling you, he hasn't seen anybody.

While "someone" might be possible (barely), I think "anybody" is much more likely there.

FW said:
I might sound as if I am ponificating, but actually I am not at all sure of what I am saying. These examples should be considered as questions.
(Pontificating is a word I learnt recently. )

In AE we would be more likely to say learned.

Those are my opinions, for whatever they are worth.

:)
 
F

FW

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I appreciate your learned opinions.
I wonder how other native speakers would feel about the last two examples. To tell you the truth, I would use "anybody" myself (it is safer), but, like you, would hesitate to qualify "somebody" as wrong here. That might just be my mother tongue interfering with my English though.
Cheers.
 

Tdol

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He is accused of theft.
-He might be a bit of a thug, but he wouldn't rob someone.

'Someone' here is more specific than 'anyone'. It makes sense, but the context is a little different. 'Anyone' would make the person less capable of the crime- 'somoe' might mean that they could rob certain people, but not others. For a blanket denial, use 'anyone'. ;-)
 
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