Any is a determiner. It generally suggests an indefinite amount or number and is used when it is not important to say how much/many we are thinking of. Because of its ‘open’, non-specific meaning, any is often used in questions and negative clauses, and in other cases where there is an idea of doubt or negation.
Have you got any biscuits?
We didn’t have any problems going through customs.
You never give me any help.
The noise of the party stopped me getting any sleep.
I suddenly realized I’d come out without any money.
Any is common after if
If you find any blackberries, keep some for me.
Sometimes any means ‘if there is/are any’ or ‘whatever there is/are’.
Any fog will clear by noon. (= If there is any fog, it will clear by noon.)
Perhaps you could correct any mistakes I’ve made.
Any can be used to emphasize the idea of open choice: ‘it doesn’t matter who/ what/ which’.
You can borrow any book you like.
Any and Some
Any often contrasts with some, which is most common in affirmative clauses.
|I need some razor blades.
Sorry, I haven’t got any razor blades.
|Have you got any razor blades?|
Any and not any
Any alone does not have a negative meaning. It is only negative when used
She’s unhappy because she hasn’t got any friends. (NOT … because she has
got any friends)
No means the same as not any, but it is more emphatic.
She’s got no friends.
Not any cannot begin a sentence; no is used instead.
No cigarette is harmless. (NOT “,not any cigarette- … )
No tourists came to the town that year.
We do not usually use not any with singular countable nouns.
She hasn’t got a job. (NOT She hasn’t got any job.)
Nouns with and without any
With an uncountable or plural noun, any usually suggests the idea of an
indefinite amount or indefinite number.
– Is there any water in that can?
Is there water on the moon? (The interest is in the existence of water, not its
– Dad hasn’t got any hair. (He has lost the amount he had.)
Birds have feathers, not hair. (No idea of the amount.)
– None of her children have got any sense. (Not even a small amount.)
Ann looks like her mother, but she hasn’t got blue eyes. (NOT … she hasn’t got any blue eyes – people have a definite number of eyes: two.)
Any = ‘It doesn’t matter who/which/what’
Any can be used to emphasize the idea of free choice, with the meaning of ‘it doesn’t matter who/which/what’. With this meaning, any is common in
affirmative clauses as well as questions and negatives and is often used with singular countable nouns as well as uncountables and plurals. In the speech, it is stressed.
Ask any doctor – they’ll all tell you that alcohol is a poison.
She goes out with any boy who asks her.
When shall I come?~Any time.
We can use just any if necessary to make the meaning clear.
I don’t do just any work – I choose jobs that interest me.
(l don’t do any work … could be misunderstood.)
Note that we use either, not any, to talk about a choice between two alternatives.
I can write with either hand. (NOT … any hand.)
At all is often used to emphasize the meaning of (not) any.
I’ll do any job at all – even road-sweeping.
She doesn’t speak any English at all.
Any and any of
Before a determiner (definite article, demonstrative or possessive word) or a pronoun, we use any of
– I didn’t go to any lectures last term. (NOT … any a/lectures … )
I wasn’t interested in any of the lectures. (NOT … any the lectures.)
– Do any books here belong to you?
Do any of these books belong to you?
– I don’t think any staff want to work tomorrow.
I don’t think any of us want to work tomorrow.
Note that when any of is followed by a plural subject, the verb can be singular or plural. A singular verb is more common in a formal style.
If any of your friends is/are interested, let me know.
Without a noun
A noun can be dropped after any, if the meaning is clear.
Did you get the oil?~ No, there wasn’t any left.
Instead of not any without a noun, none can be used. This is often
There was none left.
We don’t use any or not any alone as answers.
What day shall I come?~Any day. (NOT Any.)
How much money have you got?~None. (NOT… Not any)