negation and numbers

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negation and numbers

Post by azz » Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:49 pm

a. Not even twenty people showed up on the opening night.
b. Not twenty people showed up on the opening night.

c. Twenty people didn't show up on the opening night.


Which of the above sentences are grammatically correct?

I'd say that (a) and (b) mean that fewer than twenty people showed up, while (c) is saying that there were twenty people (presumably of a big group) that did not show up.
Is that correct?

I think (c) could have a different meaning in spoken English in a very particular context.

Let us say someone affirms: Twenty people showed up on the opening night.

One could reply
c. Twenty people didn't show up on the opening night.
meaning
d. It is not true that twenty people showed up on the opening night.
Maybe more people showed up, maybe fewer people.
Then (c) would be followed by something like: "Fifty people did."

-Twenty people showed up on the opening night.
-No, twenty people didn't show up on the opening night. Fifty people did.


Is that correct?
Does the dialogue in red make sense?

Many thanks.
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Re: negation and numbers

Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:53 pm

e. The entire population of Earth, except for twenty people, showed up for opening night.
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Re: negation and numbers

Post by trolley » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:05 pm

gdwdwrkr wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:53 pm
e. The entire population of Earth, except for twenty people, showed up for opening night.
meaning not even the entire population of Earth showed up on opening night....
leaving open the possibility than Venus and Mars had a 100% turn-out
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Re: negation and numbers

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:35 pm

These sentences are all grammatically correct, but each conveys a different nuance.
azz wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:49 pm

a. "Not even twenty people showed up on the opening night" implies "and this was very disappointing".

b. "Not twenty people showed up on the opening night" implies "only a ridiculously tiny number of people came to the event".

c. Purely as written, "Twenty people didn't show up on the opening night" implies "but I had expected that of all those who were invited, those twenty individuals in particular would be there".
However, given the more elaborate scenario you posited in c. & d., then the interpretation you suggested in d. is possible.
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