I'm trying to write this parable:

 Just as knowledge alone of a language doesn't make somebody a poet... 


  • Does one write "doesn't" or "don't"? From what I know of grammar, I would go with "doesn't", but it doesn't sound right.
  • "somebody" or "anybody"? Which one is correct in this case? My intended meaning is "a given person".



I'm not sure why you say it doesn't sound right.

Just as knowledge alone of a language doesn't make ...

[Just as] knowledge [alone of a language] doesn't make somebody a poet...

knowledge doesn't make somebody a poet...

"anybody" in that sentence is much more emphatic.

  • I don't have a native ear, that's all ;-) . Thanks! – dsign Jul 25 '15 at 21:25
  • I upvoted this answer. That makes three down-votes. I'm curious also. Why? – dsign Jul 25 '15 at 21:36
  • I can't speak to the DV, chasly, but doesn't, Just as knowledge of language alone, doesn't make someone/anyone a poet, sound less awkward? – user98990 Jul 25 '15 at 21:37
  • @dsign Thanks for the info. Some of my votes have been going up and down like a yoyo. I think a couple of people have been downvoting all my answers, no matter what they are. I believe the system can detect such users. I just put a query on meta about it. – chasly from UK Jul 25 '15 at 21:42
  • @LittleEva It is actually used in a context where the presence of more than one language is implied/discussed. But otherwise I would go with your suggestion. – dsign Jul 25 '15 at 21:45

It should correctly be written doesn't, as knowledge- its subject - is third person singular. Only for a third person plural subject, or a first person singular, would one write don't e.g. they don't know or I don't know.

Either somebody or anybody could be used. The sentence would mean almost exactly the same thing, but anybody would be more insistent, or assertive.


I don't; Thou doesn't; * He or she doesn't; We don't; You don't; They don't

In your poem, * Knowledge looks like a third person singular noun to me so:

Knowledge doesn't

  • 3
    The second-person singular should be thou dost not. I have no idea how it might be shortened - I have never seen it thus. – WS2 Jul 25 '15 at 23:09
  • 1
    @WS2 I believe it's thou dostn't: google.com/#q=dostn%27t – phoog Jul 26 '15 at 6:28
  • Yes I too paused on the second person singular. The other persons are all abbreviations and I believe the shortening of thou dost not is thou doesn't just as in he doesn't is the shortening of he does not. I too have never (well, almost never) seen thou doesn't, but that is merely because any thou construct is archaic rather than because it is wrong. WS2's dostn't seems preferable. – Anton Jul 26 '15 at 6:33
  • @Anton no. I've never claimed to know what the shortened form is. – WS2 Jul 26 '15 at 8:41

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