While I was answering a question on ELL, I got confused with a comment from a fellow user. After I indicated that:

"Do you have any idea to prove it?'

is grammatically correct, the OP commented that "ideas" should be used in place of "idea".

The comment befuddled me. I thought until now that "any" should be followed by singular noun and not plural. So I searched Google and saw it's a huge debate going on and there is no end to it. I got no perfect and trustworthy source. So I thought to post the question here.

So what is the right rule? Should singular or plural be used after "any"?


5 Answers 5


The correct use changes depending on the sentence:

Do you have any idea how to do this?
Do you have any idea what to do?
Do you have any ideas for me?
Do you have any ideas for how to do this?

It seems that, if the singular or plural noun (idea) is directly connected by a subordinating conjuction (how / what / where / which / that), you use the singular; if it's modified by a prepositional phrase (for...) or by nothing at all, you use the plural.

Without using all that grammar jargon, I'd say use the singular if it's followed by how, what, that, who, whom, whose, which, etc, and use the plural otherwise.


The NOAD (New Oxford American Dictionary) has a note about using any:

When used as a pronoun, any can be used with either a singular or a plural verb, depending on the context: "we needed more sugar but there wasn't any left" (singular verb) or "are any of the new videos available?" (plural verb).

In "English Grammar" (David Daniels & Barbara Daniels, ISBN 0-06-467109-7), any is listed between the pronouns that can be either plural or singular, among all, more, and some.

Looking for do you have any idea for on the Corpus of the Contemporary American English, I get a single sentence.

But what happened was that the network came to us—because we have a little production company that does my specials—and said, do you have any idea for a show?

Looking for do you have any ideas for, I get three sentences:

Do you have any ideas for the next movie?

Well, then," said Avette, "do you have any ideas for another topic?"

Do you have any ideas for me?

Looking for "do you have any idea(s) to," I get the following sentences:

Do you have any idea to this day how you stacked up against the men?

So, do you have any ideas to help cows and sheep stop with the gas problem?

Do you have any ideas to boost union membership?

The Corpus of Contemporary American English doesn't have any example of the phrases I searched for the period 2010-2012. The sentences containing any ideas to/for are dated 2005-2009 (the most recent ones), while the sentences containing any idea to/for are dated 1995-1999.

  • 3
    Any idea is idiomatic. Perhaps this is putting too fine a point on it, but Do you have/Have you got any idea what's the matter with her? is different to me than Do you have/Have you got any ideas as to what's the matter with her? in that any idea suggests there's only one possible answer/interpretation. Otherwise, it's most often plural; that's not universally applicable though. Have you got any money? Or Do you have any monies? Commented Nov 29, 2013 at 4:06
  • 1
    You should look in the British and American corpus and check "Do you have any idea?" vs. "Do you have any ideas?" and "Is there any idea?" vs."Are there any ideas?"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 20:07
  • 1
    any is a determiner here in this context. So like other determiners it can come before either a singular or plural noun. It will depend on the context or the meaning it needs to convey whether the noun following any will be singular or plural. Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 8:35
  • As a side note, not As side note.
    – joy2020
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 14:53

If you have learnt a rule that “any” can only be connected with a singular noun, it is wrong. “Any” can be used with singular or plural according to sense.

Is there any question?

The speaker indicates that there is probably no more than one question.

Are there any questions.

The speaker indicates that there might be several questions.



Conjugating “to do” demonstrates that “does” is used with a (third person) singular object. Now, since “Do any here object?” sounds right, but “Does any here object?” doesn’t suggests that “any” regards a plurality. Also, the fact that the word “anyONE” exists at all suggests that “any” refers to a plurality.


To me, the word 'any' should always be followed by a singular noun. Example: Do you have any idea as to when this work will get done?

Having said that, the below is also correct. Example: Do you know any of these boys, who fled the scene on the other day?"

  • Bad guidance here. Looking at Ngrams, there are some nouns where the plural form is found more than the singular.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 14:23

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