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rezaf

another english question-any

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rezaf

My grammar book says that the noun after "any" should be plural like "Do you have any questions?" and not " Do you have any question?" but I have a feeling that I most of the time hear people use it with singular nouns like " Do you have any evidence?" , " I don't have any idea what he is talking about." so is it possible to use it that way?

thanks in advance

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roddy

Evidence isn't a singular noun, it's uncountable. You can't have two evidences, only two pieces / bits, etc. Like bread.

I thought about the second 'idea' sentence, but it made my head hurt.

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liuzhou

I think in the "any idea" question, idea is being used metaphorically to mean "understanding" which is also uncountable.

I have two ideas how to answer this question. Countable.

I have no idea. Uncountable.

So, Roddy's original explanation is correct.

˙uıɐƃɐ ǝsuǝsuou ƃuıʞlɐʇ ǝq plnoɔ ı 'ǝsɹnoɔ ɟo

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gato
Should be plural like "Do you have any questions?" and not "

A plural noun follows when it could be one or more items that are being referred to. In your example, you may have one or more questions.

" I don't have any idea what he is talking about."

Here, you are saying "I have not even one idea...", therefore the use of the singular.

Here are examples:

Singular

- It was not in any way improper.

- Any attempt to escape will be severely punished.

- Any student could answer that question.

- Any answer is better than that one.

- It's a good deal at any price.

Plural

- Do you like any girls?

- Do we need any documents for this?

- ?

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rezaf

thanks, so (outside of Suadi Arabia) is it "I don't have any wives" or "I don't have any wife"?

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liuzhou

"I'm not married" is much easier and more natural.

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roddy

I don't have any wives.

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Lu

Outside of SA: I don't have a wife.

In SA: I don't have any wives.

'not any wives' implies that you could have more than one, so can really only be used when polygamy is accepted.

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roddy

Sorry, I didn't realise the significance of the Saudi Arabia qualification. Very unlikely you'd use 'any' to express the idea that you aren't married. Even if you were involved in some kind of misunderstanding with an interlocutor who was convinced you did have a wife, you'd probably be saying something like 'but I don't have a wife' or 'i have no wife'.

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Altair

I like Gato's response the best, but would like to add to it.

Using "any" usually implies that quantity or number is an issue. I think it is almost always equivalent to "even a single," "even a few," or "even a little bit of," depending on whether it is a single countable noun, a plural countable noun, or a mass/uncountable noun (e.g., water). In this usage, the plural is just about required.

"Any" is also appropriate to indicate that identity or category is immaterial (i.e., "no matter what"). E.g., "I want any Chinese book you have." By the way, this example is actually ambiguous. It could mean that I want a single Chinese book from you, but don't care which one or ones you might have; or it could mean I want all your Chinese books and don't care what their titles are. Another example of this second usage would be: "Any trespasser will be punished." This is equivalent to "Any kind of trespasser will be punished, no matter who it is and what family he or she is from."

In this second usage, the plural is also possible, but might change the meaning. "I want any Chinese books you have" would mean that you want all of them and do not care about which ones they are or what type of books they are. "Any trespassers will be punished" means more or less the same as the singular, but would be more usual. The singular brings to the imagination only one number (i.e., 1); whereas the plural includes an infinite number of numbers and so is more inclusive. The plural could also be seen as referring to the first usage and be short for "Any number of trespassers will be punished, no matter how many or how few there are." The plural even includes the possibility that there is only one trespasser.

In the first usage (where "any" signals that quantity is an issue) using a plural noun is also much more neutral than using a singular noun. I may have one book, two books, three books, etc. Only one of these states is singular and so asking if I have any books is more inclusive. Again, it includes the possibility that there is only one book, even though it is plural. If you use the singular and ask if I have any book, this actually shifts the emphasis from quantity to category/identity and is usual only where there is very heavy emphasis and a more specific description of the possible category. E.g., Do you have any Chinese book that a beginner like me could understand? I say this because I am in despair and believe there there is no such book. Even here, the plural is probably more usual.

I don't have any idea=I cannot even begin to start, because I have no understanding at all. I do not have any type of idea. I don't have even a single idea about a single aspect of the matter. I don't have anything that resembles an idea or that could be called an idea.

I don't have any ideas=I know that there must be several ideas that could work, but I cannot think of even a few of them or even one of the many possible ones.

Do you have any book?

I find it hard to believe that you do not own books and so ask of you have even one book, no matter what type of book it is.

Do you have any books?

I find it hard to believe that circumstances of made it so that you do not own even one book. Perhaps you are poor. Is it possible that you might own even one book?

Do you have kids?

This suggest there are two relevant states: having children or being childless, Which state are you in?

Do you have any kids?

This suggests that some people have no kids, some have one, some have two, some have three, etc., Which of the many possibilities applies to you? It could also suggest that I expected you to have a number of kids, but something has happened to make me doubt that you have even one.

Do you have any kid? (=Do you have any of the kids?)

This cannot be used to refer to number, only identity. There are a number of kids I know that you might have with you. Are things so bad that there is not even one of those kids with you now? Even here, I would prefer the plural, especially if there is no specifying phrase like: "Is there any kid that wouldn't want to be a super hero?

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