According to any grammar table I can find, any, anything, anybody should be used in questions and negative sentences. But if I look in Google for Anyone can do it., I have 6 mil. results. The sentence is obviously correct.

Why can I use anyone here? And are there other cases of using any... in affirmative sentences?


Any and its compounds are Negative Polarity Items (questions are Negative Triggers), though that's probably not what a grammar table would tell you. But that's not the only use of any.

There is also a different sense of any, with different grammar. It's called "Free-Choice any" and it belongs to that set of quantifiers like each, every, and all. Whereas all means 'complete group, taken together', and every means 'complete group, taken individually', and each means 'an individual, as part of a group', free-choice any means 'choose an individual from a group at random'; sort of a syntactic Axiom of Choice.

This any is normally restricted to use with modals of possibility,
i.e, it's a Possible Polarity Item like tell time:

  • Anybody could do that is grammatical, but not *Anybody did that.
  • Jimmy can already tell time is grammatical, but not *Jimmy already told time.
  • Thank you, having from you this term 'FC any', I had found many articles on the subject, such as allthingslinguistic.com/post/118645516892/… BTW, it would be better, I think, to put the term at least in bold, better as a header - for better visibility in searching. – Gangnus Apr 8 '18 at 18:44
  • I forgot to mention that FC any is the only any that can appear as subject of a clause, because Negative Polarity any normally follows its negative trigger, and those overwhelmingly appear in verb phrases, not subject noun phrases. – John Lawler Apr 8 '18 at 19:40
  • I think, your last message deserves to be included into the answer. The main thought is important, and explanation, sorry could be more elaborated. I do not understand, what you mean to be in what phrases. – Gangnus Apr 9 '18 at 7:14

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