General Question

Mimishu1995's avatar

Can you explain to me, in plain language, when to use plural and singular after "any"?

Asked by Mimishu1995 (20151points) 1 month ago

I think my education failed me on this one.

I have memory of being taught that nouns after “any” should be singular. But as time went on, I realized that I saw plural nouns more often than I expected. Sometimes it’s singular and sometimes it’s plural. It just seems to me that the noun just changes whenever it wants to and there is just no rule. Can anyone help me understand this?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

24 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Here is a nice lesson on using any.

In essence, Any is normally used with plural and uncountable nouns in questions, negative and conditional sentences.

janbb's avatar

So basically it can be used with either a singular or a plural noun depending on the context.

LostInParadise's avatar

I am no grammarian, but it seems to me that any is used in the singular when it is known that there can just be at most a single possibility. For example: Is any of you the one that she was talking about?

zenvelo's avatar

@LostInParadise But that snetence should read, ”are any of you the one that she was talking about?” Plural referencing the uncountable noun.

LostInParadise's avatar

I am not going to argue with you, but “the one” does not seem like an uncountable noun. Thinking about it, I can see the use of are in this case because “you” always takes the plural. What if I changed the example to, Is any of them the one she was talking about?

janbb's avatar

@LostInParadise The verb is agreeing with “any” which is a group of more than one person that might possibly be the one she was talking about and so has to be plural.

janbb's avatar

@Mimishu1995 Actually, the more I think about it, the more confused I get!

JLeslie's avatar

I’m no expert, but the sentence is ARE any of you the one she is talking about. The speaker is talking to a group, but even if talking to one person the sentence would be are you the person she is talking about? Just by how it sounds it wouldn’t be is you the person she is talking about.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m outta here

gorillapaws's avatar

I have no idea. I’m just a native English speaker. You’d have to ask someone who knows what they’re talking about….

JLeslie's avatar

Sending this to Jeruba.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I never expected this question to get so confusing :(

Waiting for Jeruba too.

LostInParadise's avatar

Here is another example of any being used in the singular. Is any of them better than all of the others? Try that in the plural, I dare you.

zenvelo's avatar

@LostInParadise That sentence would flow much more cleanly by using are.

“Is any…” is an awkward construct and not used.

jca2's avatar

“Are there any Mondays in 2022 when we have vacation?” sounds better than “Is there any Mondays in 2022 when we have vacation?”

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @zenvelo. I would use are not is in the most recent example.

Are any of them better than all of the others?

I realize what sounds right to me isn’t always correct though. I’m interested to see what Jeruba has to say.

LostInParadise's avatar

Okay, how about: Is any one of them better than all the others?

janbb's avatar

The “them” still implies a plural group so I would still think it should be “are.” But if you said, “Is anyone better than all the others”, is would be right.

Like @JLeslie, I’m just going with what sounds right to me.

LostInParadise's avatar

So you think is is okay to say, Are any one of them better than all the others?

“anyone” only refers to people. The example I gave could be about anything.

snowberry's avatar

“Is any one of them…” is grammatically correct. “Are any one of them…” is not grammatically correct. That’s because one is singular.

Brian1946's avatar

“Is any choice acceptable to you?” could refer to something besides a person.

dabbler's avatar

I don’t see how there could be a general rule for “any” when the plurality relies entirely on the rest of the context.
If you expect one person to order lunch, “Is any (one) of you going to order lunch?” If multiple people are expected to order lunch, “Are any (many) of you going to order lunch?”

JLeslie's avatar

@dabbler I think I would say “is anyone going to order lunch?” Otherwise, I’d use “are any of you going to order lunch?”

Whenever I think too much about grammar or how I would say something everything starts to sound wrong. Lol. I run into this with my husband, like I’m supposed to be the expert in the family, but I’m far from it.

snowberry's avatar

I think any is an adjective, and it modifies a noun.

Are there any apples?

You can take any apply from the basket.

If a”any” is an adjective, both sentences are correct.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther