Positive anymore

"Twitter can be a professional job anymore."

(YGDP Database 2011)

Positive anymore is the usage of the word anymore in a non-negative context, as in the following examples from Murray (1993):

1) a. Pantyhose are so expensive anymore that ...

b. Anymore those things are completely useless.

This usage of anymore is different from the standard English anymore, which is a negative polarity item (meaning that it must occur in a negative or negative-like environment, such as after a negative word like not or nobody, or in a question like Do you ever go there anymore?).

Who says this?

The Dictionary of American Regional English describes the geographical distribution of positive anymore as "scattered but least frequent in New England." It is well-attested in a variety of Midwestern states as stated by Murray (1993), and American Speech papers (Carter 1932, Cox 1932, Ferguson 1932, Krumpelmann 1939, Malone 1931, Parker 1975, Shields 1997, Youmans 1986) mention instances in West Virginia, South Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and southern Ontario. Punske and Barss (2011) discuss the unique distribution of positive anymore in the variety of Southwestern American English spoken in Tucson, Arizona. It has also been reported in parts of New Jersey (Coye 2009).

According to Murray (1993:178,184), the distribution of positive anymore does not seem to be governed by sociolinguistic factors such as social class, gender, and age. His study did not have a diverse racial distribution.

Syntactic Properties

Occurrence in utterance-initial position

For some speakers, anymore may occur at the start of an utterance, as in the following example:

2) Anymore, John smokes.
(Punske and Barss, 2011)

Tense restrictions

As observed by Parker (1975), positive anymore can only occur in present tense environments. For example, of the following three sentences, only (3b) is acceptable:

3) a. *When he got more free time, he exercised a lot anymore.

b. He has plenty of free time, so he exercises a lot anymore.

c. *When the summer break starts, he'll exercise a lot anymore.

In this respect, positive anymore resembles nowadays. For example, (4b) is the only acceptable sentence of the following three:

4) a. *When he got more free time, he exercised a lot nowadays.

b. He has plenty of free time, so he exercises a lot nowadays.

c. *When the summer break starts, he'll exercise a lot nowadays.

However, these tense restrictions are not present when anymore is used as a negative polarity item. Thus, the following are all acceptable:

5) a. He felt antsy because he didn't exercise anymore.

b. He has very little free time, so he never exercises anymore.

c. When you start your new job, you won't have time to exercise anymore.

Semantic properties

Positive anymore has been said to mean approximately 'nowadays,' referring "to an activity or situation that was not formerly true, but has come to be characteristic of the present" (Murray 1993, p. 174). For example, Gas is pretty expensive anymore means 'Gas is pretty expensive nowadays (though it wasn't earlier).' However, this characterization does not apply to all attestations of anymore; for example, the sentences in (6) do not imply that the opposite used to be true:

6) a. You stay in your office too late anymore.
(Krumpelmann 1939:156)

b. They still use that custom anymore.
(Eitner 1949:311)

Positive anymore data

(open the map in a new window | see the data in spreadsheet format)

Page contributed by Zach Maher on June 11, 2011

Page updated by Tom McCoy on August 22, 2015


Carter, Charles W. Jr. 1932. Any more again. American Speech 7:235–36.

Cassidy, Frederic Gomes. 1985. Dictionary of American Regional English. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Cox, John Harrington. 1932. Any more again. American Speech 7:236.

Coye, Dale F. 2009. Dialect Boundaries in New Jersey. American Speech 84.4:414-452.

Eitner, Walter. 1949. Affirmative ‘anymore’ in present-day American English. In Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters, volume 35, 311–16.

Ferguson, D. W. 1932. Any moreAmerican Speech 7:233–34.

Krumpelmann, John T. 1939. West Virginia peculiarities. American Speech 14:155–156.

Malone, Kemp. 1931. Any more in the affirmative. American Speech 6:460.

McCain, Jr., John Walker. 1939. Any more again. American Speech 14:304.

Murray, Thomas E. 1993. Positive anymore in the Midwest. In Heartland English: Variation and transition in the American Midwest, 173–186. University of Alabama Press.

Parker, Frank. 1975. A comment on anymoreAmerican Speech 50:303–10.

Punske, Jeffrey, and Andrew Barss. 2011. It’s not just positive, anymore. Paper presented at LSA Annual Meeting.

Shields, K. 1997. Positive anymore in Southeastern Pennsylvania. American Speech 72:217–220.

Youmans, Gilbert. 1986. Any more on anymoreAmerican Speech 61–75.

Further reading

Haycock, Allan. 2001. Who’s positive anymore? Ms., University of Toronto.

Hindle, Donald. 1975. Syntactic variation in Philadelphia: positive anymore. In Pennsylvania Working Papers on linguistic change and variation i-5. Philadelphia: US. Regional Survey.,

Horn, Laurence R. 1970. Ain’t it hard (anymore). In Papers from the 6th Regional Meeting, 318–327. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.

Horn, Laurence R. 1978. Some aspects of negation. In Universals of human language, ed. Joseph Greenberg, Charles A. Ferguson, and Edith A. Moravcsik, volume 4, 127–210. Stanford University Press.

Horn, Laurence R. to appear. Hypernegation, hyponegation, and parole violations. In Proceedings of the 35th Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, volume 35.

Labov, William. 1973. Where do grammars stop? In Sociolinguistics: Current trends and prospects (23rd annual Georgetown Round Table meeting on linguistics). Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. See especially pp. 65-76.

Labov, William. 1991. The boundaries of a grammar: inter-dialectal reactions to positive anymore. In Dialects of English: studies in grammatical variation, ed. P. Trudgill and J. Chambers, 273–288. Longman.

Labov, William. 1996. When intuitions fail. In Papers from the Parasession on theory and data in linguistics. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.

Wolfram, Walt, and Donna Christian. 1976. Appalachian speech. Arlington, VA: Center for Applied Linguistics.