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a. My brother does anything I tell him to.

b. My brother does everything I tell him to.

Is there any real difference between the meanings of these sentences: If yes, what?

I think the first one is talking about single things and the second one about a collection or a series of things. But at the end of the day, it boils down to the same thing, doesn't it?

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The difference is more a matter of connotation than denotation.

My brother does anything I tell him to.

That could be paraphrased, "Whatever I tell my brother to do, he does. I could tell him to do anything, and he would comply."

My brother does everything I tell him to.

That could be paraphrased, "What I tell my brother to do, he does. He is always obedient."

So the difference is the difference between "whatever" and "what". There are no limits to "whatever" or "anything", and so that version is open to the inference that the brother follows any instruction his sibling gives him, no matter how unwise that instruction might be.

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    The distinction that TimR draws is pretty subtle for the two sentences in the OP. The “He’d jump off the Brooklyn Bridge” interpretation of sentence a is far less ambiguously conveyed with the conditional mood: My brother would do anything I tell him to. Especially if a no matter what were also appended. Nov 13, 2023 at 8:14

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