"The Sorcerer's Stone! Of course -- the Elixir of Life! But I don't understand who --"

"Can you think of nobody who has waited many years to return to power, who has clung to life, awaiting their chance?" ... ...

I think 'nobody' here refers to Voldermort. I don't understand why 'nobody' is being used in this context. I figure it might mean the sense: a person of no influence, authority, or importance. But I think Voldermort isn't that kind of person. On the contrary, he meant a lot to all the people in the book. Otherwise, 'anyone' or 'anybody' looks more appropriate for this context in my opinion.

Any thoughts?

-- Excerpted from Harry Potter.

  • 1
    "Can you think of nobody..." has the same meaning of "Can't you think of anybody..." The negative word is just moved to a different place. I think the "Can...nobody" construction is more common in BrE than AmE. – Canadian Yankee Oct 16 '18 at 14:26
  • @CanadianYankee That make much sense! – dan Oct 16 '18 at 14:49

It is a way of saying that the other person is being a little obtuse.

I wonder why he's kneeling on one knee at the restaurant table and looking earnestly into that woman's eyes.
-- Can you think of no reason why he might be doing that?

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.