Positive anymore

"Twitter can be a professional job anymore."

(YGDP Database 2011)


Positive anymore is the usage of the word anymore in a non-negative context with a meaning similar to nowadays, as in the following examples:

1)  a. Pantyhose are so expensive anymore that ...

    (Murray 1993)

b. Even in the small towns anymore, it's getting like that.
(Wolfram and Christian (1976:106)

This usage of anymore is different from the standard English anymore, which is a negative polarity item (meaning that it must occur in a negative or negative-like environment, such as after a negative word like not or nobody, or in a question like Do you ever go there anymore?).

Who says this?

The Dictionary of American Regional English describes the geographical distribution of positive anymore as "scattered but least frequent in New England." It is well-attested in a variety of Midwestern states as stated by Murray (1993), and American Speech papers (Carter 1932, Cox 1932, Ferguson 1932, Krumpelmann 1939, Malone 1931, Parker 1975, Shields 1997, Youmans 1986) mention instances in West Virginia, South Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and southern Ontario. Punske and Barss (2011) discuss the unique distribution of positive anymore in the variety of Southwestern American English spoken in Tucson, Arizona. It has also been reported in parts of New Jersey (Coye 2009).

According to Murray (1993:178,184), the distribution of positive anymore does not seem to be governed by sociolinguistic factors such as social class, gender, and age. His study did not have a diverse racial distribution.

Syntactic Properties

Occurrence in utterance-initial position

For some speakers who accept sentences like (1a), anymore may occur at the start of an utterance, as in the following example:

2) Anymore, John smokes.
    (Punske and Barss, 2011)

NPI (negative) anymore cannot appear sentence-initially, because like other NPIs, it must follow a negation or something like it.

Tense restrictions

As observed by Parker (1975), positive anymore can only occur in present tense environments. For example, of the following three sentences, only (3b) is acceptable:

3) a. *When he got more free time, he exercised a lot anymore.

b. He has plenty of free time, so he exercises a lot anymore.

c. *When the summer break starts, he'll exercise a lot anymore.

In this respect, positive anymore resembles nowadays. For example, (4b) is the only acceptable sentence of the following three:

4) a. *When he got more free time, he exercised a lot nowadays.

b. He has plenty of free time, so he exercises a lot nowadays.

c. *When the summer break starts, he'll exercise a lot nowadays.

However, these tense restrictions are not present when anymore is used as a negative polarity item. Thus, the following are all acceptable:

5)  a. He felt antsy because he didn't exercise anymore.

b. He has very little free time, so he never exercises anymore.

c. When you start your new job, you won't have time to exercise anymore.

Semantic properties

Positive anymore has been said to mean approximately 'nowadays,' referring "to an activity or situation that was not formerly true, but has come to be characteristic of the present" (Murray 1993, p. 174). For example, Gas is pretty expensive anymore means 'Gas is pretty expensive nowadays (though it wasn't earlier).' However, this characterization does not apply to all attestations of anymore; for example, the sentences in (6) do not imply that the opposite used to be true:

6) a. You stay in your office too late anymore.
         (Krumpelmann 1939:156)

b. They still use that custom anymore.
(Eitner 1949:311)

Positive anymore in the literature

See data points from the literature on the map or browse them in spreadsheet format.

Page contributed by Zach Maher on June 11, 2011 and updated by Tom McCoy on August 22, 2015.

Updates/revisions: June 27, 2018 (Katie Martin)

Please cite this page as: Maher, Zach and Tom McCoy. 2011. Positive anymore. Yale Grammatical Diversity Project: English in North America. (Available online at http://ygdp.yale.edu/phenomena/positive-anymore. Accessed on YYYY-MM-DD). Updated by Katie Martin (2018).

References

Phenomenon Category: 
Negation
Phenomenon Dialect: 
Widespread American English
Appalachian English
Midwestern American English