There are certain items in some languages that tend to occur largely in negative clauses. In English, one such item might be the word ever:
- *I have ever been to Paris.
- I haven't ever been to Paris.
There are other items that tend to only occur in positive clauses, for example the item somewhat:
- *He didn't smell somewhat.
- He smelled somewhat.
The former are often referred to as Negative Polarity Items (NPI's), the latter as Positive Polarity Items (PPI's).
Many, if not most, NPI and PPI items can occur in questions:
- Have you ever been to Paris?
- Was he somewhat smelly?
What I'd like to know is if there is a group of items that tends to only occur in question/interrogative environments?
If there is, is there an established term for such items? Are there any lists of such items in various languages, or perhaps in English?
I can think of only one such English item which seems to behave like this, namely by any chance:
- *He was there by any chance.
- *He was not there by any chance.
- He wasn't there by any chance?
- Was he there by any chance?
One swallow, of course, doesn’t make a summer.