I would be inclined to parse the sentence "Nobody move and nobody get hurt" as two commands:

  1. Nobody move.
  2. Nobody get hurt.

In other words, this is equivalent to "Nobody move or get hurt" (for nitpickers: assume conjunctive/inclusive or). As long as I'm only reading and not in a bank with armed gunmen, in which case I would probably ignore any possible grammatical issues.

This answer suggests that this is equivalent to "Nobody move and nobody gets hurt", which in turn is equivalent to "If nobody moves, nobody will get hurt".

Other sentences with a similar construction that come to mind are "Nobody move and nobody say a word" or "Nobody move and nobody shoot anyone" (vs. "Nobody move and nobody shoots anyone").

Admittedly all these sentences have a very strong contextual inference. In the last example, "Nobody move and nobody shoots anyone" clearly means "if nobody moves, nobody will shoot anyone", while "Nobody move and nobody shoot anyone" should be directed to the ones holding the guns: "Don't move and don't shoot anyone". "Nobody move and nobody shoot anyone" directed at people not able to shoot anyone and having guns pointed at, clearly doesn't mean the latter, however, is it a grammatically correct replacement of "Nobody move and nobody shoots anyone"?

In summary, my question is: can "Nobody move and nobody get hurt" be grammatically taken to mean "If nobody moves then nobody gets hurt" instead of "Nobody move or get hurt". Why or why not?

  • To me: no. I cannot force that to be anything but two imperatives. Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 8:53
  • I can hear it in my mind as the latter, but only in the context of a bank hold-up, with the words spoken in a heavy 'New Yoik' accent or a dialect which would normally substitute 'get' for 'gets'. Without that framing context, and in writing I would have to agree with Janus's comment above. Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 9:22
  • I agree with the two previous comments. The problem I see here is that getting hurt is not something one chooses to do (or not), it simply happens. Therefore, the imperitive, "nobody get hurt!" seems very odd and it therefore takes some time to parse. With the other example, "nobody move and nobody shoot anyone", I understand this as two seperate instructions, as people more or less have the ability to control whether or not they move or shoot people (within reason).
    – Matt
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 9:43
  • This is a topic that EFL speakers often have difficulty understanding. (Pedants often have difficulty too, especially when they try to rely on what they learned in grade school.) It is something that native English speakers hear and speak and read, and so, our native "ears" don't have difficulty in comprehending what is going on--though we might have difficulty verbalizing the grammar behind it. This topic involves asymmetric coordination. I was hoping that someone else would do the heavy lifting this time. But if no one does, then I probably might post something much later tonight.
    – F.E.
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 23:20

2 Answers 2


1.) "Nobody move and nobody get hurt."

When this sentence is shouted out by bank robbers at the customers inside a bank, then the customers know pretty darn well what is being communicated: If nobody moves, then nobody gets hurt. That is, if you are a bank customer and you don't want to get hurt by the robbers, well, one way to not get hurt is to not move.

In the other thread, the OP wanted to know if a sentence in a wikipedia page was grammatical: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobody_Move,_Nobody_Get_Hurt

Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt is a cliche from hold-up movies, and may refer to: . . .

And the OP was also wondering about the version:

  • 2.) "Nobody move and nobody gets hurt."

Basically, the two versions really only differ in the clause type of the 2nd clause in the coordination:

  • 1.) "Nobody move and nobody get hurt."

  • 2.) "Nobody move and nobody gets hurt."

Both versions use an imperative clause as the 1st coordinate. The difference is that the #1 version uses an imperative clause for the 2nd coordinate, while #2 uses a declarative clause for its 2nd coordinate. But both #1 and #2 versions basically have the same interpretation: If you don't move, then you don't get hurt. The sentences are interpreted as if they were a conditional construction. The directive force of "Don't move!" is retained in both versions.

In any case, they most certainly do not have the meaning:

  • 3.) "Nobody move or get hurt."

If bank robbers yelled "Nobody move or get hurt!", then the bank customers might glance at each other, wondering what in the world was going on. (Eventually, the customers might figure out that the bank was getting robbed by EFL speakers.)

Often, there are some EFL speakers (and pedants) that assume that the coordinator "AND" can only be involved in symmetric constructions: constructions where the order of the two coordinates can be reversed with no change in meaning of the sentence. E.g.

  • A.1 "Tom likes [to run cross-country] and [to swim across the lake]."

  • A.2 "Tom likes [to swim across the lake] and [to run cross-country]."

In those above two versions, they both have the same meaning.

But their understanding about the coordinator "AND" is wrong.

Because "AND" is also commonly involved in asymmetric constructions: constructions where the two coordinates resist having their order be reversed, or when reversed, cause the sentence to have a different meaning. Here below are some examples of asymmetric constructions.

Temporal sequence: "X and Y" implicates "X and then Y"

  • B.1 "He got up and had breakfast."

  • B.2 "He had breakfast and got up."

Here, there is a temporal sequence of the events. In this case, for #B1, that he got up and then had breakfast, while for #B2 that he had breakfast in bed before getting up out of bed.

Consequence: "X and Y" implicates "X and therefore Y"

  • C. "I fell off the ladder and broke my leg."

You can infer that I broke my leg as a result of falling off the ladder. (Reversing the coordinates is not an acceptable alternate.)

Condition: "X and Y" implicates "if X then Y"

  • D.1 "Do that again and you'll be fired."

This implicates that "if you do that again then you'll be fired". This example has an imperative clause and a declarative clause. The following example has two imperative clauses, (which is somewhat similar to the form of this thread's OP's example)

  • D.2 "Join the Navy and see the world."

which has the meaning "that you'll see the world if you join the Navy".

Concession: "X and Y" implicates "despite X, Y"

  • E. "You can eat as much of this as you like and not put on weight."

Temporal inclusion: "X and Y" implicates "X while Y"

  • F. "Did he come in and I was still asleep?"

Formulaic frames: And there are expressions where the constructions of "X and Y" are sorta idiomatic or are idioms or are fixed or are partly fixed. Some examples are:

  • "The coffee is nice and hot."

  • "Try and not be so touchy."

  • "Be sure and lock up."

  • "The TV has gone and broken down."

  • "They sat and talked about the wedding."

  • "Be an angel and make me some coffee."

And there's also asymmetric constructions involving the coordinator "OR". For example,

Condition: "X or Y" implicates "if not X, then Y"

  • "I'm leaving before the end or I'll miss my train."

  • "I left early or I would have missed my train."

  • "Hurry up or we'll be late."

  • "Don't do that again or you'll be fired."

. . .

And so, hopefully you've gotten the picture. There are a lot of asymmetric constructions, and they are part of today's standard English. We native English speakers use them, easily and often.

Note that most of the examples and most of the info were borrowed from the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum et al., The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CGEL), pages 1299-1304.

EDITED for adding links:

Here's my post in the other thread that discusses the grammaticality of the two versions:

Here's my post on imperative clauses with a 3rd person subject:

  • While I appreciate all the work my question is neither understanding asymmetric constructions nor about whether I would understand "Nobody move and nobody get hurt" if someone was pointing a gun. I'm sure that other inarguably ungrammatical phrases such as "give money me" or even "I, give money, now!" would also be understood if the speaker was holding a gun. "Join the Navy and see the world." is the only example here that approximates "Nobody move and nobody get hurt", however, it is not wholly identical since it is in the first person...
    – msam
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 8:51
  • An analogue would be "Nobody join the Navy and nobody sees the world" vs "Nobody join the Navy and nobody see the world". The first is clearly a conditional "if nobody joins the navy nobody gets to see the world" (whether that is true or not is beside the point). The second should be, according to your answer, also a conditional. This, I cannot fathom.
    – msam
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 8:56
  • ...Admittedly, if "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt " is an old-movie cliché this brings another issue to the table. If a phrase is common enough to become an idiom then it doesn't really matter if it is grammatical or not.
    – msam
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 8:59
  • I wouldn't have the slightest trouble parsing “Nobody move or get hurt!”, though I'd parse it as meaning “Nobody move! If you do, you'll get hurt!”, similar to phrases like “Fight or die”, just complicated by the shift in subject. Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 12:18

Is "nobody move and nbdy shoot anyone" perhaps regional? I've never heard it said that way. (And I have heard "no one move and no one gets shot.")

  • "nobody move and nobody shoot anyone" is just other sentence used to explain the question. "No one move and no one gets shot" is pretty clear : "if no one moves, no one will get shot". The query is about "no one move and no one get shot"
    – msam
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 13:00

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