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Is the following sentence ambiguous?

If I say to my 10 classmates:

Did anyone download the file?

Does it mean that I'm asking (a) if all of the 10 downloaded it, or does it mean that I'm asking (b) if one of the 10 downloaded the file, or (c) it is ambiguous?

Looking at the dictionary, unfortunately couldn't help me to solve my question.

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    No, it is not ambiguous. For all 10 people to have downloaded it, they would all have to say "yes." – Weather Vane Oct 31 '19 at 10:08
  • So it is the 'b' meaning, right? – Judicious Allure Oct 31 '19 at 10:16
  • Yes (b) to be clear, so if you want to know if all downloaded the file, you have to ask a different question, since not all may answer this one. If just one person says "yes" you have the answer to this question. – Weather Vane Oct 31 '19 at 10:17
  • I understand. Thank you. If you can write it as an answer I'll accept it. And if you'll add the way to ask for the 'a' meaning (maybe "Doed anybody…?) , it would be the best. – Judicious Allure Oct 31 '19 at 10:22
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No, it is not ambiguous, it is your meaning (b).

If just one person says "yes" you have the answer to this question, and the others might not answer. For (a) all 10 people to have downloaded it, they would all have to say "yes."

If you want to know if (a) everybody downloaded the file, you have to ask a different question. Suppose you ask

Did you all download the file?

then it might be the case that person A already knows that the other 9 have downloaded the file, and answers "yes" for them all. But you don't know that, so you still don't have a clear answer.

So I suggest asking

Which of you has downloaded the file?

And wait for answers from each person, engaging eye contact as you look around them.

  • This is not correct. The (b) interpretation is wrong. Strictly, that interpretation would be if exactly one or if one and only one. The actual interpretation of anyone is at least one. So, anyone includes 1, 2, 3,  … or 10 people downloading it. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Nov 2 '19 at 14:31
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This isn't ambiguous for the following reasons:

Anyone - Any person or people (from your link)

Now lets break that down, the main part of this definition is the word any, then it becomes quite clear:

Any Used to refer to one or some of a thing or number of things, no matter how much or how many.

I.e. Any is not the same as all. It means that at least one person has downloaded the file.

If we wanted to check that all your classmates downloaded the file:

Did everyone download the file?

Every - Used before a singular noun to refer to all the individual members of a set without exception.

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