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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 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 at 0:14
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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. – John Lawler May 10 at 22:03
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    @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 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. – John Lawler May 10 at 23:15
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    @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 at 0:13
  • @NigelJ Yes, "accept" does the trick. – Centaurus May 11 at 0:32

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