Meaning of the word "any"

nobody17
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:40 pm

Meaning of the word "any"

Postby nobody17 » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:21 am

My question was prompted by an answer choice from the December 2007 LSAT (Section 3, Q8).

If vapors toxic to humans are produced by the degradation of household cleaning products by bacteria in any landfill, then the health of at least some humans will suffer.


In here http://www.manhattanlsat.com/forums/q8-environmentalist-when-bacteria-degrade-t1014.html, they rule out this choice, because they interpret the use of "any" to mean all.

However I'm confused because I'm accustomed to "any" being used in at least two senses. The first one being used to indicate all -- if someone says "This is true for any student", then he means that it is true for all students.

The second meaning I've seen it used is to indicate at least one. So if I say "If any of you object, then I'll change my mind," then my meaning is that if at least one of you object, then I'll change my mind.

In this particular answer choice, it seems like either meaning (all or at least one) would be plausible, which is problematic since one would rule out this answer choice, while the other would make it seem like the correct answer. Is there something I'm missing here? Thanks!

bp shinners
Posts: 3091
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:05 pm

Re: Meaning of the word "any"

Postby bp shinners » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:19 pm

nobody17 wrote:My question was prompted by an answer choice from the December 2007 LSAT (Section 3, Q8).

If vapors toxic to humans are produced by the degradation of household cleaning products by bacteria in any landfill, then the health of at least some humans will suffer.


In here http://www.manhattanlsat.com/forums/q8-environmentalist-when-bacteria-degrade-t1014.html, they rule out this choice, because they interpret the use of "any" to mean all.

However I'm confused because I'm accustomed to "any" being used in at least two senses. The first one being used to indicate all -- if someone says "This is true for any student", then he means that it is true for all students.

The second meaning I've seen it used is to indicate at least one. So if I say "If any of you object, then I'll change my mind," then my meaning is that if at least one of you object, then I'll change my mind.

In this particular answer choice, it seems like either meaning (all or at least one) would be plausible, which is problematic since one would rule out this answer choice, while the other would make it seem like the correct answer. Is there something I'm missing here? Thanks!


Even in the second sense, "any" is referring to all the students, because it could be any single one of them that objects. While only one of them needs to object to result in you changing your mind, each and every one of those students could trigger it. Same with "any landfill" - you only need one, but it could be any of them, so the triggering ability applies to all of the landfills.




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