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Like some others, at the checkout of a local store the cashier asked me:

Do you need a bag?

As I already had my own, I answered "No, thanks." However, I would like to be a bit more talkative next time, but I don't know with which word to fill in the blank in following sentence:

No, I don't need bag, thank you!

I don't know if it's a bag, no bag, any bag ...

  • no bag is emphatic, you use any bag if you expect there are lot of bags and the cashier would give you one. I think any is more fluent in a non-assertive context like this. – user178049 Mar 17 '17 at 2:00
  • @user178049 Indeed, there is a dozen of bags on the counter and s.he would give me one or two depending on how many items I have. || "I don't need a bag" is incorrect, isn't it? – ebosi Mar 17 '17 at 2:06
  • No, all versions are fine. This might help – user178049 Mar 17 '17 at 2:17
  • It's still correct, because if you need multiple bags, that includes a bag multiple times. – Hector von Mar 17 '17 at 2:18
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The correct phrase here is "no, I don't need a bag."

"I don't need no bag" is something you might hear sometimes -- double negatives ("do not need no bag") are technically incorrect, but used by many native speakers anyway.

"I don't need any bags" means exactly the same thing (in this context) as "I don't need a bag," and is the most obvious answer had the cashier asked "do you need any bags?"

"I don't need any bag" means something slightly different. It's grammatically correct, and would be understood fine, but it actually implies that you don't need bags in general. Saying "I don't need any bag" implies that you don't need a bag ever, in all of life.

  • Wikipedia says double negatives are grammatical. And the OP also asks about the contruction of any bag but you don't mention it. – user178049 Mar 17 '17 at 2:20
  • Double negatives are grammatical, but mean something new: "don't need no bag" technically means that you do need a bag, but most people use it to mean the opposite. Thanks for the note about "any"; I'll edit the answer. – Eric Dand Mar 17 '17 at 2:21
  • What about "the (offered) bag". Does that only work with the adjective? – Hector von Mar 17 '17 at 2:21
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    @Hectorvon: Are you asking if "I don't need the bag" is OK? If so, then yes, that's also fine. Less natural, but totally fine. – Eric Dand Mar 17 '17 at 2:27
  • I'm thinking it would have an inconsiderate undertone, because the can be used to denote a class of things, as in "no need to ask me that, ever". But with the adjective it's obviously fine, so I wondered about the difference. I take it, omission the adjective is one common reading. – Hector von Mar 17 '17 at 4:15

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