General Writing and Grammar Help/meaning

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Hi Ted, long time no see, how are you !
Today, i caught a sentence like this : " Adults can easily survive on seven or eight hours' sleep a night, whereas teenagers require nine or ten hours. According to medical experts, one in five youngsters gets anything between two and five hours' sleep a night less than their parents did at their age.". I can't understand the meaning of the words " gets anything". The sentence is in a passage regarding that teenagers is getting less and less sleep.
Secondly, when i look up meanings of "then", the sixth meaning is " used to show the beginning or end of a conversation, statemetn. For example : Right then, where do you want the table to go" or " ok, bye, then". I'm quite confused the meaning of "then" in this situation.
Thanks,

Answer
Dear Dat:

Hi Ted, long time no see, how are you !

*** I am well and I hope you are, too.  I have missed getting your questions. Keep them coming!

****

Today, i caught a sentence like this : " Adults can easily survive on seven or eight hours' sleep a night, whereas teenagers require nine or ten hours. According to medical experts, one in five youngsters gets anything between two and five hours' sleep a night less than their parents did at their age.". I can't understand the meaning of the words " gets anything". The sentence is in a passage regarding that teenagers is getting less and less sleep.

**** "Gets anything" is a poor phrase.  The writer should NOT have used it.  He could have written "gets ANYWHERE between . . . . "  However, that phrasing, although better, is not much of an improvement.  What the sentence means is that 20% of the children in the study averaged between two and five hours of sleep per night LESS THAN their parents did when they were the age of their children. In short, many children sleep less than their parents did, when their parents were young.  Even shorter . . . . many of today's children require less sleep than did their parents.

Secondly, when i look up meanings of "then", the sixth meaning is " used to show the beginning or end of a conversation, statemetn. For example : Right then, where do you want the table to go" or " ok, bye, then". I'm quite confused the meaning of "then" in this situation.

*** The use of "then" when it is completely unnecessary is an idiom expressed in certain geographical areas of this country.  I find it annoying.  For instance, "What you are going to do, then?"  The question ends with the word "do."  Adding "then" is unnecessary, but it is part of a regional dialect in this country.

A few years ago, I spent a week at Oxford University, as part of a panel concerned with freedom of speech.  Our student liaison, a very bright young now, frequent said, "OK, then" and "All right, then."  His reason for adding "then" was a matter of dialect.  In his area of Great Britain, adding "then" was natural and acceptable.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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