I am a research paper writer with more than 3 years of experience. In a recent story of mine, I have the sentence:

The girl had not seen anyone while she was walking a long and dark street.

Then, a teacher from one school wrote to me saying that I made a mistake and the correct word to use would be nobody. I insisted that there were no mistakes, but many people supported him.

Please, maybe the rules have changed and I am missing something?

  • 2
    Is that the sentence exactly as quoted in the story, or are you paraphrasing where the sentence might have been written differently? Oct 3, 2018 at 11:10

1 Answer 1


From your mistyping an "r" as a "к", I am guessing you're Russian. That, in turn, suggests to me that the people criticizing your work are likely to be Russians as well.

Russian uses double negation. As indeed do certain varieties of English. But Standard English does not. Your critics are not aware of this simple fact, and instead are simply translating from Russian word-for-word.


  • Девушка никого не встретила.
    Standard English: "The girl didn't meet anyone".
    Literal translation, not Standard English: "The girl didn't meet nobody".

  • Я ничего не знаю.
    Standard English: "I don't know anything".
    Literal translation, not Standard English: "I don't know nothing".

  • Никогда тебя не забуду.
    Standard English: "I will never forget you".
    Literal translation, not Standard English: "I will never not forget you".

  • Никогда никому ничего не скажу.
    Standard English: "I will never say anything to anyone".
    Literal translation, not Standard English: "I will never not say nothing to nobody".

You get the point.

In brief, you are correct, and your critics are wrong.

You might wish to inform them that when writing in English, we generally tend to apply the rules of the English grammar, and not those of Russian.

  • Not only grammar and syntax, we get detective work as well. Impressive, sir.
    – user63615
    Oct 3, 2018 at 14:47

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