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positive "anymore"



An example of positive anymore, from Legacies of Colonial English: Studies in Transported Dialects, ed. by Raymond Hickey (Cambridge University Press, 2004)


In some parts of the U.S., Canada, and Ireland, the dialectal use of the adverb anymore (or any more) in positive constructions to mean "now" or "at this time" (as opposed to some time in the past).

In Standard English, anymore is usually limited to negative or interrogative constructions. But positive anymore is not regarded as an error: "Both the older American Dialect Dictionary and the new DARE [Dictionary of American Regional English] note that [positive anymore] is used by persons of all educational levels; it is not substandard; and it is not a feature of speech that is considered indicative of social standing" (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, 1994).

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Examples and Observations:

  • "The Man smiled at him wearily and left, and he closed the book and put it away again and stepped to the window to watch the Captain cross the quad through the lengthening evening shadows, going home. In a way he almost felt sorry for him, any more. But then he asked for everything he got."
    (James Jones, From Here to Eternity. Scribner's, 1951)

  • "I tire easily anymore."
    (Quoted by Thomas E. Murray, "Positive Anymore in the Midwest," 1993)

  • "Useta be I had to go down to the still and carry my own whisky outa the Hollow, but anymore I'm such a good customer they tote it up here to the turn-around and hide it in the bushes for me."
    (Charley Robertson, Shadow of a Cloud. Harcourt Brace, 1950)

  • "I spend a lot of time with my family anymore."
    (Quoted by Charles Boberg in The English Language in Canada. Cambridge University Press, 2010)

  • "One negative encounter, such as rudeness from a salesperson, becomes '(all) people are so rude anymore.' Take away their ability to exaggerate the negative, and we rob pessimists of their doom and gloom philosophy."
    (Mary Kay Mueller, Taking Care of Me: The Habits of Happiness. Insight, 1997)

  • "In English, the adverb anymore is commonly used in negative sentences such as 'Rudy doesn't like fishing anymore,' as well as in questions such as 'Does Rudy go fishing anymore?' There are, however, some dialects in in which this adverb may be used in positive or affirmative sentences like 'Della likes watching videos anymore' to mean 'nowadays.' The implication is that Della did not particularly like to watch videos at a previous point in time, but now she does. Sometimes anymore is placed at the beginning of the sentence, as in 'Anymore Della likes watching videos.' Speakers of dialects that use positive anymore take its use for granted, but speakers from other dialect areas find it rather unusual--and sometimes completely incomprehensible.

    "The use of positive anymore is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First, it is generally considered a midwestern or southern highland feature, not a lowland southern one. . . . Positive anymore is taken for granted in many areas of the United States extending from Pennsylvania through Ohio, Indiana, and points westward. It apparently can be traced to Scots-Irish ancestry, and it is still well attested in Northern Ireland. It is not, however, typically found in England."
    (Walt Wolfram and Natalie Schilling-Estes, Hoi Toide on the Outer Banks: The Story of the Ocracoke Brogue. The University of North Carolina Press, 1997)

  • "[A] feature of many varieties of American English is positive anymore, as in a sentence such as Anymore, we need to buy our groceries before 10 p.m. because the stores close earlier than they did in the 1980s. Here anymore means 'these days, as opposed to some previous time.' Although there are parts of the United States where the construction strikes native speakers of English as alien and bizarre, it is widespread and commonplace except for the old South and far East. Clearly, positive anymore is an extension, by analogy, of the universal negative anymore construction, as in We don't need to buy our groceries before 10 p.m. anymore.

    "For some speakers, part of the grammatical bizarreness of some uses of positive anymore is the placement of anymore at the beginning of the sentence. Such speakers find We need to buy our groceries before 10 p.m. anymore much more acceptable than Anymore, we need to buy our groceries before 10 p.m. They also find Anymore, we don't need to buy our groceries before 10 p.m. extremely awkward if not downright ungrammatical."
    (Ronald R. Butters, "Grammatical Structure." The Cambridge History of the English Language, Vol. 6, ed. by John Algeo. Cambridge University Press, 2001)
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