If I say "I have no more apples" do I have to have had some apples to begin with? Is there an instance where I could start with none and still say I had no more sensically?


To the first sentence, yes, and to the second, no. No context in which I have ever heard this type of statement has supported the possibility of there having been no apples to begin with.

The basic reason I would infer for this is that we never use more per se to mean more than nothing. Hence, more always implies that there was at least one apple at the beginning.

There are two usages of no more. You could be showing a full apple-barrel to a customer and telling him that you have no more apples [than what is in front of him], or you could be sold out for the day and be telling him that you have no more apples [than what you already sold].

Semantically, there is no reason why no more shouldn't mean no more than nothing ever; it's just that no one has ever used it that way, and if someone has never had an apple, and still has no apples, he would say I have no apples, not I have no more apples.

  • I fail to see the difference between your “two meanings.” – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 9 '11 at 22:02
  • No more can mean no more than this (pointing at something), or it can mean no more than what I've already gotten rid of. The second scenario is different in that no more indicates that you have none now. The reason why I'm stressing this point is that it is easy to equivocate no more [than what I no longer have] with no more [than nothing]. The former is a correct meaning of no more, while the latter is never used as a meaning of no more. – Daniel Oct 9 '11 at 22:06
  • Thank you for the explanation. I would not describe that difference as “There are two meanings of no more,” but now I see the difference you are referring to. – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 9 '11 at 22:11
  • Sorry for the confusion! Based on what you just said, I decided to change two meanings to two usages. Hope that helps! – Daniel Oct 9 '11 at 22:12
  • How about a third meaning/usage? I have no more desire to eat oysters than to catch ebola. – FumbleFingers Oct 10 '11 at 1:08

Simply put, general usage says "no more" implies there having been some apples at another point in time. If there never were any apples to begin with, one might instead say, "We don't have (sell) apples."

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