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Example sentence:

"She didn't feel anything anymore. She didn't even have any thought left.

I thought she second sentence was common. But when I searched for didn't even have any thought, I got 0 results.

What's wrong with that phrase? And what the correct wording?

  • I personally have never heard of this phrase. What is it you want to say? "She didn't have anything left to say."? "She didn't know what to think."? – Teacher KSHuang Jan 23 '17 at 7:28
  • @TeacherKSHuang Yes, that she didn't have any thought in her head anymore. Her head became blank. – alex Jan 23 '17 at 7:33
  • @Alex : I agree with Teacher KSHuang . You can say "She didn't have anything left to say."? or "She didn't know what to think."? – EngFan Jan 23 '17 at 7:38
  • @alex : or she couldn't think of anything – EngFan Jan 23 '17 at 7:39
  • FWIW, if you search for "have any thoughts left", you'll find some results. "have any thought left", though somewhat rarer, has some results as well. – Damkerng T. Jan 23 '17 at 8:32
9

If the text was a quote from a book, then perhaps one could argue that it's a stylistic turn of phrase, but didn't have any thought left is certainly not idiomatic in English.

If the implication is that she has no actual thought on the matter (either she didn't care any more, or she no longer had the strength to think about it), something along the lines of

She didn't feel anything anymore. Her mind was blank.

...might be more idiomatic.

One could also use a similarly worded idiom - to draw a blank - to imply that she was trying to think of something but couldn't.

She didn't feel anything anymore. She tried to think of something to say, but she drew a blank.

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  • 1
    Would it be correct to say " I tried to remember where I saw him but I drew a blank" ? – EngFan Jan 23 '17 at 8:23
  • 2
    @EngFan - yes, that usage is also correct. In fact, one of the definitions for draw a blank in the link above is 'to fail to find or remember something'. – mike Jan 23 '17 at 8:28
  • Speechless might also work in this case. – DavidTheWin Jan 23 '17 at 13:13
  • @Mike Neither phrase is particularly idiomatic. I really want to edit in She felt completely numb in place of She didn't feel anything anymore, because IMO that would make the whole thing idiomatic and even more engaging to the audience (reader?). – jpaugh Jan 23 '17 at 18:29
  • @jpaugh This is a matter of personal taste and style, I would leave the OP's example sentence well alone. You could explain in an answer why you think "she didn't feel any more" is not idiomatic, or less engaging. Personally, I prefer questions which have two or more answers, as long as they don't replicate what has been said before. – Mari-Lou A Jan 23 '17 at 19:46
4

If the noun following "any" in a negative phrase is countable, then the plural form is normally used; e.g.

  • She didn't have any friends.
  • She didn't have any opinions.
  • She didn't have any thoughts at all.

If the noun is uncountable, then it must be singular

  • She didn't have any time
  • She didn't have any money
  • She didn't have any patience.

The singular form of a countable noun can also be used, but it follows "a" or "an"

  • She didn't have a penny
  • She didn't an opinion
  • She didn't have a single thought

Examples taken from Google Books

  1. He didn't have a single thought in his head for his own safety...for anything except you.
  2. It seemed to her that she didn't have a single thought in her head except that it mustn't happen.
  3. I felt as if I didn't have a single thought. Not one. How Zen it seemed.

The adjective single is used for emphasis.

single

1.2 [with negative] Even one (used for emphasis):
‘they didn't receive a single reply’

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1

Mari-Lou A's answer covers the technical aspect perfectly, but we need to understand your intent.

"She didn't even have any thought left."

The technical problem is that thought needs to be thoughts, but that is not a complete idea. Is there something specific she doesn't have any thoughts about?

When she thought about the wedding, she drew a blank. (suggests she might lack imagination or she may need some new inspiration)

She didn't have any thoughts about the wedding. (neutral, she may think of something later)

She had no further thoughts about the wedding. (suggests, but does not state, that she doesn't want to think about it any longer)

She was done thinking about the wedding. (definitive, she does not want to think about it ever again)

If there is no specific situation, you may intend to write:

She was suffering from loss of interest. (loss of interest in all her hobbies and personal relationships, this is a symptom of depression)

She was lost at that time in her life. (aimless, the reason could be any number of things depression, addiction, fresh out of University, dead-end job)

Her mind was clear. (this is a good thing, nothing is bothering her, she is free to think about something new)

The following would seem strange to a native speaker:

She drew a blank when she thought about her life. (people typically draw a blank about something specific)

When she thought about her life her mind went blank. (grammatically correct, but would be puzzling to the reader)

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