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In no time at all, Defense Against the Dark Arts had become most people's favorite class. Only Draco Malfoy and his gang of Slytherins had anything bad to say about Professor Lupin.

"Look at the state of his robes," Malfoy would say in a loud whisper ...

I think 'something' should be used in this sentence, because 'anything' usually is used in a negative sentence. How should we understand the use of 'anything' in this sentence? Is there any difference in this case if we use 'something'?

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    Anything can apply to multiple things. Something generally only applies to a single thing. In this passage, the use of anything implies that they say many different bad things in a way that something wouldn't. – Jason Bassford Nov 17 '18 at 4:38
  • @JasonBassford How about 'everything'? – dan Nov 17 '18 at 4:59
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    I'm not entirely sure why, but the word "only" makes "anything" permissible here. For example, you could say "Draco had something bad to say", but you'd never say "Draco had anything bad to say". But "Only Draco had anything bad to say" is ok. With the word "only", both "anything" or "something" sound fine and mean the same thing. (I'm a native English speaker from Canada) – Gabriel Luci Nov 17 '18 at 5:20
  • @GabrielLuci Thanks for pointing out the word 'only' makes difference here! That's really a good point! – dan Nov 17 '18 at 5:30
  • @dan It could be paraphrased as every bad thing was said by Draco, etc. But the sentence would need to be restructured for that. (Had everything bad wouldn't really work.) But as mentioned in another comment, for that to happen, only would have to be removed. – Jason Bassford Nov 17 '18 at 6:03

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