any man/men [in the negative and the interrogative, and with 'hardly']


Senior Member
Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese

I've been wrestling with the collocation of 'any' and 'man/men' in the negative and the interrogative up in the head.

[1] I did not meet any man/men.
[2] Did you meet any man/men?
[3] I hardly met any man/men.

In my understanding, whether you use the singular or plural here all depends on what the situation the speaker is in. If most people expect there is normally only one person you can see, you use 'man,' but if most of the time you can see more than just one man, you use 'men.' Am I correct? Any inclination in accordance with the negative or the interrogative, or with 'hardly'?

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  • boozer

    Senior Member
    I agree with you.

    However, I have a bit of a problem finding a context in which 'I hardly met any man' could work. I mean, you were expecting to meet a single man, but you almost did not manage to... :confused::)


    Senior Member
    English English
    It does depend on context, but it's not about 'expectation', it's about literally whether you are talking about one man or several:

    A: I hear you met a man in the park. (There was one specific man that you met)
    B: No, I didn't meet any man. (You didn't meet this specific man, or any other men)

    A: Did you meet any men in the park? (Did you meet any men of any kind/in general, in the park?)
    B: No, I didn't meet any men. (There were no men in the park at all.)


    Senior Member
    ...but it's not about 'expectation'...
    Well, I was thinking of the listener's expectation, actually. Your examples show that A (the one spoken to) does have expectations, so the answer is given accordingly by B.

    But, of course, you are right - it is not the speaker's expectation that matters. :)


    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese

    But how about Chez's second dialog? A says so becaues normally, I mean normally, parks are not empty --- there would be some men. (Well, maybe at night yes:)) It's speaker's expectation.

    It's more pronounced with 'no.' You would say 'I have no wife,' not 'no wives,' because people, if married, have one wife, except in polygamy.
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