The boys will not receive any trophy.

Does this mean that the boys will not receive a trophy? What does this sentence mean and is it grammatically correct?

  • It is grammatically correct and it does mean the boys will not receive a trophy.
    – Karlomanio
    May 10 '19 at 22:19
  • It has two meanings. Either the boys will refuse all trophies presented to them. Or the boys will not be offered any trophies. It requires context to avoid ambiguity.
    – Nigel J
    May 11 '19 at 0:14

any means any number--one selected or whatever quantity. Merriam Webster: A : one or more —used to indicate an undetermined number or amount Do you have any money?

So they won't win a trophy for coming in first, they won't win a trophy for being the tallest boys, they won't win a trophy for being the nicest boys, they won't win any trophy.

  • Right. Any is a Negative Polarity Item, which means it can only occur grammatically in a negative context. Notice that you can't say *The boy will receive any trophy, because there's no negation to license the use of any. May 10 '19 at 22:03
  • 1
    @JohnLawler As a matter of fact, you can say "the boys will receive any trophy" as in "these boys will receive any trophy to impress the girls, even if it's a trophy for finishing last".
    – Centaurus
    May 10 '19 at 22:26
  • @Centaurus: Only if receive a trophy is under the control of the boys, rather than the judges. To impress the girls is a purpose clause modifying receive, and requires a volitional agent subject for receive, which has to be the boys. May 10 '19 at 23:15
  • 1
    @John Lawler It would be better said "The boys will accept any trophy ...to impress ...", then it becomes clear that it is volitional.
    – Nigel J
    May 11 '19 at 0:13
  • @NigelJ Yes, "accept" does the trick.
    – Centaurus
    May 11 '19 at 0:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.