there is nobody in the classroom

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stephenlearner

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

If one says "there is not a person in the classroom", and I agree with him, I say "NO".

But if one says "there is nobody in the classroom", and I agree with him, should I still say "NO"?

Is "there is nobody or nothing" an affirmative or negative sentence?

I know its meaning is definitely negative, but I am sure about its form.

Thank you.
 
  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'There is nobody there' is a sentence in positive form, because the verb itself is not negated.
    'There is not anybody there' is negative in form.

    However, the meaning of both sentences is the same.

    How should one reply to your questions? I always try to give a clear statement in such cases, rather than a one-word answer.
    'There is no one there' or 'There is someone there'.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    If you want to disagree with him, then you would say, quickly and sharply, "No!" or "No way!" or "Nope!"

    If you want to agree with him, then you would say, more evenly, either "Yes" or "No" ("Yup," "Mmm-hmm," "Nope," "Sure isn't," etc.)

    You can also make your assent even clearer by magnifying or reiterating his statement: "Not a soul!"

    Tone of voice and speed of response will let him know whether you're agreeing or dissenting.

    Actually, in many situations, the words "yes" and "no" are interchangeable in everyday English speech, because assent and dissent are communicated through tone and facial expression and gesture more readily than through words.
     

    stephenlearner

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you for your quick reply.

    OK, maybe I need talk about this question in another way.

    As wandle said, 'There is nobody there' is a sentence in positive form.

    What tag question can I use, then?

    Should I say "there is nobody there, is it?" or "there is nobody there, isn't it?"
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'There is nobody there, is there?'
    The tag question is responding not to the form but to the meaning of the sentence.

    The tag question should always pick up the initial word of sentences of this type.
    'It's not raining, is it?'

    When the intial word is a name or noun, use the proper pronoun in the tag question.
    'Obama is President of the US, isn't he?' :tick:
    'Obama is President of the US, isn't it?' :cross:
     
    Last edited:

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Should I say "there is nobody there, is it?" or "there is nobody there, isn't it?"
    Neither: "There's nobody there, is there?" (Compare to: "There's no pool at the hotel, is there?")

    That being said, I would never use a tag question with this sentence! I would only say something like "There's nobody there, right?"
     
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