Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 297–315

Towards a uniform analysis of any

Open AccessArticle

DOI: 10.1007/s11050-008-9035-1

Cite this article as:
van Rooij, R. Nat Lang Semantics (2008) 16: 297. doi:10.1007/s11050-008-9035-1


In this paper, Universal any and Negative Polarity Item any are uniformly analyzed as ‘counterfactual’ donkey sentences (in disguise). Their difference in meaning is reduced here to the distinction between strong and weak readings of donkey sentences. It is shown that this explains the universal and existential character of Universal- and NPI-any, respectively, and the positive and negative contexts in which they are licensed. Our uniform analysis extends to the use of any in command and permission sentences. It predicts that whereas the use of any in permission sentences is licensed and gives rise to a universal reading, it is not licensed in command sentences.


AnyCounterfactualsFree choiceNegative polarity
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© The Author(s) 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands