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I am not sure about the meaning of the "any more" in the following phrase and how can I spot it:

Would the things I've said and done matter any more?

1) Would it matter any longer?
2) Would it matter more than before?

Are there any rules to find it out?

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closed as not a real question by MετάEd, tchrist, Kris, Brian Hooper, Kristina Lopez Mar 13 '13 at 17:34

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3 Answers 3

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Merriam-Webster defines "anymore" (one word) as

1 : any longer (I was not moving anymore with my feet — Anaïs Nin)

2 : at the present time : now (hardly a day passes without rain anymore)

It also says, in a section on "usage":

Although both anymore and any more are found in written use, in the 20th century anymore is the more common styling.

It does not explain any distinction between "anymore" and "any more," but by implication, when it appears as one word, it has to mean one of Merriam-Webster's two definitions. In your context, it would have to mean "any longer."

If it appears as two words, it can have other meanings. In your context, it could mean "more than before."

My hunch is it should mean "more than before."

This would be consistent with the distinctions we make between "everyday" and "every day," or between "anyone" and "any one." "Everyday" means ordinary. "Every day" means occurring on every day. Here's The Chicago Manual of Style on the distinction between "anyone" and "any one":

anyone; any one. The one-word anyone is a singular indefinite pronoun {anyone would know that}. The two-word phrase any one is a more emphatic form of any, referring to a single person or thing in a group {Do you recognize any one of those boys?} {I don’t know any one of those stories}.

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I think the way to know is the emphasis. If the last word (more) is emphasized than it could mean Would it matter more than before?. If the phrase is written and not spoken then it's all in the context. But I can see how it could mean any one of those two possibilities.

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The any more / anymore debate is by no means settled. I notice that Dave doesn't give the Collins definition for anymore - I don't think they list it. There is a reasoned discussion at http://alt-usage-english.org/anymore.html , where Bob Cunningham begins:

Opinion concerning "anymore" vs "any more" divides roughly into three camps:

There is no such word as "anymore". It is simply a misspelling.

"Anymore" and "any more" are two ways of spelling the same thing, and the two have the same meaning.

There is a useful difference in meaning between the two.

He goes on to give a rough statistical breakdown of numbers in the three camps, mentioning US and UK differences.

So, unless OP knows that the statement originates with a M-W fan, he can't be sure which alternative is intended. Context would surely inform here - one can't just up and say without preamble Would the things I've said and done matter any more? and expect to be taken seriously.

A new management team were about to take over. New ideas, new goals, new policies. A fresh start. Would the things I've said and done matter any more?

I could have spent valuable time trying to dress the project up, so that it would have seemed a more attractive use of resources to the council. Would the things I've said and done matter any more?

Just to add to the confusion, both Jane Austen and a translator of Fyodor Dostoyevsky used anymore in the non-temporal sense ( http://www.thefreedictionary.com/anymore ).

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I'm new here. Am I meant to use Collins? –  Dave Mar 12 '13 at 13:23
@Dave: Last time we sent the army over to force you to, it didn't go down too well. Seriously, regional and national (and subject-specific) usages do differ, and this fact often has to be addressed if confusion is to be avoided. When I used to teach maths - sorry, math - I often found it necessary to explain that 'similar' in math/s has a different meaning from 'similar' in everyday English, for instance. We have to know our audience/s, and need to explain where usages differ: markedly, or (as here), slightly. The OP asked for 'any rules'; the rule 'drive on the right' doesn't always hold. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 14 '13 at 12:53

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