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The famous line of Jim Carrey in the move The Mask: "Somebody stop me!"

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Grammatically, I believe it should be "somebody stops me" because somebody is third person singular.

So, why is it acceptable to say "somebody stop me"?

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  • 1
    He's asking to be stopped.
    – nnnnnn
    Mar 21, 2020 at 5:53
  • If he'd seen Lt. Mitch Kellaway at that moment, would he have shouted "Mitch, stop me!" or "Mitch stops me!"? There needs to be a pause after 'Mitch' (hence the comma), while the run-on sfter 'somebody' sounds quite natural. Mar 21, 2020 at 15:54
  • He is doing more than asking those around him to stop him. He is daring them: Go ahead, come here and stop me ... if you can! Mar 31, 2020 at 17:35

2 Answers 2

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The "stop" in "stop me" is an imperative. It could also be interpreted as an elided form of "[I dare] somebody [to] stop me!"

The imperative has two forms, both of which use the infinitive:

  • First person (only plural): Let's stop me!
  • Second person: [You] stop me!

We can demonstrate this is the infinitive form by using the verb "to be":

  • First person (only plural): Let's be good!
  • Second person: [You] be good!

So for the desired meaning it can never be "Somebody stops me!" because it's either an imperative or not the main verb, therefore using the infinitive in either case.

"Somebody stops me" is simple present or habitual:

I try to go to the shops but somebody stops me. (simple present)

Every time I try to go to the shops somebody stops me. (habitual)

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Grammatically, I believe it should be "somebody stops me" because somebody is third person singular.

I think 'somebody' is not a 3rd person subject but a 2nd person subject since the sentence is directed to the listener.

Moreover, it's more like an imperative sentence than a declarative sentence, so the basic form 'stop' is correct.

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  • Also, 'Somebody help me!' Mar 21, 2020 at 8:39
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    'Somebody help me' is possibly an imperative sentence, isn't it?
    – Ram Pillai
    Mar 21, 2020 at 17:18
  • 1
    @RamPillai It's not just "possibly" one but definitely one.
    – listeneva
    Mar 22, 2020 at 5:41
  • @listeneva: Yes; hence 'help' is enough (not helps); which is what I meant to say.
    – Ram Pillai
    Mar 22, 2020 at 6:52

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