In the following sentences:

아무도 안 앉아 있어요

아무도 안 뛰어올라요

Why does it require 도 to express nobody...?

In the dictionary, 아무 means no one or nobody, so why is it not something like 아무가, which expresses the nominative case?

  • 아무도 implies something like "no one at all"
    – user17915
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 4:33
  • @user17915 So is it omittable and still make sense?
    – Blaszard
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 5:22
  • I don't think it's omissible, becasue the sentence sounds weird to me with out the 도, but I'm not sure about the exact grammatical rules either, hence it's only a comment. Maybe someone more knowledgeable can answer
    – user17915
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 6:20

2 Answers 2


Explaining 아무도 as "nobody" is a bit misleading.

아무 is translatable to "any" and "anyone".

아무 말이나 해 봐라. say anything.
아무나 할 수 있습니다. anybody can do it.
아무 때나 찾아와. come find me anytime.

And, of course it can be used with 가(although this usage is rare), or any other particle in that matter:

고집 세거나 영악스러운 데는 없어도, 아무가 보아도 순하고 말썽 없는 아이로 생긴 모습이었다. (example from the dictionary)
아무의 눈에도 띄지 않았다. wasn't seen by anybody
아무한테나 주지 마라. Don't give it out to anybody.

This explains 아무도. 아무도, used with negations like 안 or -지 않다, negates 아무, and becomes "not any" or effectively, "none".

아무도 안 왔다. anyone did not come = nobody came
아무와도 마주치지 않았다. I didn't run into anybody = I ran into no one

In conclusion, 아무 means "any", and 아무도 안 is just a plain negation of "any", which equals "none".

Other negation types, such as 못, 없다, 모르다 are possible to use with 아무도.

아무도 못 한다. Nobody can do it.
아무도 없다. Nobody's here.
아무도 모른다. Nobody knows.

  • Koreans don't use 아무가. 누가 is right in the following sentence. 아무가 보아도 순하고 말썽 없는 아이로 생긴 모습이었다. ==> 누가 보아도 순하고 말썽 없는 아이로 생긴 모습이었다.
    – dextto
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 22:55
  • @dextto It is sometimes used, like in this example. This example is from a novel (소년은 자란다 by 채만식). In this case it can be replaced by 누가 because 아무가 can 누가 are both 부정칭 대명사. Another example I can think of is 아무가 못 가는 파티(A party where not just anybody can go). Replacing it with 누가 would not make sense here. Its meaning is different from 아무도 못 가는 파티(A party where nobody can go). The first sentence implies that you need some kind of invitation to go to the party. The second implies that literally nobody can go to the party, regardless of an invitation.
    – MujjinGun
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 23:05
  • Could please share that sentece in the novel? And 아무가 못가는 파티 is also wrong. Did you mean 아무나 못가는 파티, maybe?
    – dextto
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 13:16
  • @dextto It is not wrong, its usage is just rare. Here, see it for yourself. Fourth example from the first definition.
    – MujjinGun
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 14:05
  • Oh I've been lived in Korea for 40 years, but I've never seen the expression like this. I think this is acceptable for only literature. I don't recommend to use it in normal situation. 누가 보아도 is more natural than 아무가 보아도.
    – dextto
    Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 1:23

The pronoun '아무' is an extraordinary pronoun in that it doesn't take as many particles as other normal pronouns such as '나', '우리', '그' and '그들', etc. In other words, it is idiomatic to use '도' in a negative sentence and '나' and '라도' in an affirmative sentence.

It could translate to 'everybody (anybody)' and 'nobody' as the example sentences in the linked dictionary show:

아직 아무 안 왔다. Nobody has come yet (negative sentence).

이 일은 아무라도 할 수 있다. Everybody (Anybody) can do this job (positive statement). You should not use '도' in this positive sentence as "이 일은 아무도 할 수 있다" sounds weird as Koreans would expect to hear a negative sentence when hearing '아무도'.

In conclusion, '가' is never used as a particle for '아무' in everyday conversation.

A side note: "아무도 앉아 있지 않아요." sounds better than "아무도 안 앉아 있어요."

Edit: There are some expressions using '아무가' and it seems that it was used only in some literary work. It is never idiomatic and '누가' should be used in place of '아무가' as in:

?아무가 보아도 그녀는 예쁘다.

누가 보아도 그녀는 예쁘다. (Literally) Whoever sees her, she is pretty.


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