He made a lad stand with one arm stretched out <for anything>

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park sang joon

Senior Member
Korean
The protagonist, Philip, who was born with a club foot, moved in with his uncle Mr. Carey after his mother's death.
He stays at a boarding school.
The following is the explanation about King's School at Tercanbury.

...........................
The right the masters possessed to cane boys on the hand was taken away from them, and Squirts could no longer emphasize his anger by beating his desk with the cane. He never did more now than take a boy by the shoulders and shake him. He still made a naughty or refractory lad stand with one arm stretched out for anything from ten minutes to half an hour, and he was as violent as before with his tongue.
[Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham]
I'd like to know why it is "for anything," not "for something."
Thank you in advance for your help.
 
  • sparklydiamond16

    Member
    English- Australia
    It is not referring to the arm itself being stretched out for something. It belongs to the next part of the sentence "for anything from ten minutes to half an hour." It means he was made to hold his hand out for a period of time, "ranging from a time span of ten minutes to half an hour."
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    What would "for something" mean? It wouldn't make sense to me.
    This is an idiomatic expression which in this context means "for any amount of time".
     

    park sang joon

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you, sparklydiamond16 and Glasguensis for your so very kind answers. :)
    I didn't know the structure.
    The sentence is an affirmative statement, so I thought "for some reason" is suitable, not "for anything," and that "for something" can replace it.
    Then I was wondering if an adjective phrase "for anything from ten minutes to half an hour" modifies "anything."
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    I think you have made a mistake in your question, as the word "anything" is present in the phrase - it can't modify itself.

    The fact that it is an affirmative statement, however, is entirely irrelevant, so if you think this is important you have either misunderstood the sentence or misunderstood the grammar point you are trying to apply.
     

    park sang joon

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I'm so sorry for my terrible mistake. :(

    The fact that it is an affirmative statement, however, is entirely irrelevant, so if you think this is important you have either misunderstood the sentence or misunderstood the grammar point you are trying to apply.
    Then I was wondering what "anything" means here.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    "...anything from X to Y..." is a set structure where the "thing" represents a quantity that can be anywhere between X and Y. X and Y can be a measure of time, as in your example or it could be a measure of weight or height etc.
    These snakes are anything from three to five feet long.
    The pumpkins weigh anything from 90 to 125 pounds.
     
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