'If anyone doesn't obey the law, they will be sent to prison'

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Christine Purple

Member
Italian-Italy
Hi everyone, I do have a doubt about the sentence above. Is it correct to use anybody instead of somebody? In if sentences we are supposed to use anyone, but what about the negative verb coming after?? Am I right if I intend 'anyone' as the same as 'somebody',? I think I am, since the sentence would be totally negative if anyone weren't used as subject..
Can anyone help?
Thanks in advance.
 
  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    If you want that sentence it has to be changed to: Anyone who doesn't obey the law will be sent to prison.

    Though I would say: If you break the law you're going to prison.
     

    Christine Purple

    Member
    Italian-Italy
    ok, thanks for your answers.
    ..
    Then, in negative sentences can 'anybody' be used with the meaning of 'somebody'?
    And not necessarily with the meaning of 'nobody'?

    In a few words, can the following sentence..:

    'If anyone doesn't obey the law, they will be sent to prison'

    ... be replaced by:

    'If nobody obeys the law, they will be sent to prison'.. ?

    I hope not, I guess they are different in the meaning.
    Thanks
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    'If anyone doesn't obey the law, they will be sent to prison'

    ... be replaced by:

    'If nobody obeys the law, they will be sent to prison'.. ?

    I hope not, I guess they are different in the meaning.
    Thanks

    Welcome to the forum, Christine. :)

    You are right -- "nobody" is not correct there and it changes the meaning.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Somebody' and 'anybody' can both be used here because the subject is in the 'scope' of the 'if' (it is lower/later than it), but is not in the scope of the negative (which is related to the verb that follows). In negative scope, 'any'-words are used; in questions and conditionals both 'any' and 'some' can be.
     
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