See this saying:

I was so poor. I ran around without any shoes on. (googling it returns 9 results)

I was so poor. I ran around with no shoes on. (googling it returns 4900 results)


I have no friends

I don't have any friends

I have no money

I don't have any money

Is there any meaning difference between "ran around without any shoes on" & "ran around with no shoes on"?

  • They mean the same thing. – Lawrence Mar 8 '17 at 9:02
  • I agree that the mean the same thing, but they may feel different to the listener. For example, "I have no friends" might sound like a statement of fact to the listener and "I don't have any friends" might sound like a complaint. But this is all very contextual and possibly region-based. – Teacher KSHuang Mar 8 '17 at 10:04

I would say there's a difference in emphasis. In both cases, the person is barefoot. with no shoes is a neutral statement of that fact, whereas without any shoes draws attention to the absence of shoes in situations where there is an expectation that shoes would be worn.

We walked on the soft grass with no shoes on our feet.

You can't enter the restaurant without any shoes.

It's not that you couldn't say the second sentence with with no, you can. without any simply makes the expectation that shoes are to be worn a little more strident.


The most common term for the state of not wearing any footwear is barefoot.

Not to wear any shoes (on) and to wear no shoes (on) both express the very same idea and although they are both acceptable (see the Ngram Viewer), in comparison to barefoot/barefooted they are used more rarely.

As for the difference, since the adjective "no" means "not any", there doesn't seem to be any, so it would be quite acceptable to use any of the above, their frequency being kept in mind.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.