I just watched a TV show and the guy says:

I ain't trying to fight with nobody with a baby.

So here, I can't understand the "nobody" since it make no sense to me, but it sounds like anybody, and if it's "I ain't trying to fight with anybody with a baby." that makes sense to me.


Informal English sometimes uses what's called a "double negative" for emphasis, putting words like "ain't" and "nobody" together to reinforce how strong the negative is. ("Negative concord" is a more precise, but much less common, term for this.) Here, the quoted character is strongly protesting how little he desires to fight someone with a baby — this would be much less emphatic if he'd just said "I ain't trying to fight with anybody with a baby."

  • So both of them make the same sense, but the degree are different – Jiehong Jiang Jan 20 '16 at 18:13
  • 3
    @JiehongJiang -- The "ain't" marks the dialog as being in a dialect where using "nobody" (in this context) is more correct than using "anybody". It also marks the statement as not being Standard English. – Jasper Jan 20 '16 at 18:15
  • 1
    Very good point by @Jasper. If one is going to use the nonstandard ain't, the sentence would be weird with anybody but it's natural with nobody. – GoDucks Jan 20 '16 at 18:45
  • 1
    @GoDucks: It's not so much that it's unnatural, but that it's a considerably weaker statement. – Nathan Tuggy Jan 20 '16 at 18:48
  • @Nathan I disagree or I wouldn't have said what I said. – GoDucks Jan 20 '16 at 18:52

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.