I have a question. My teacher told me that the word "any" in the following sentence is the wrong word in this context. Do you know which word to use instead?

Several Hurrah Airlines customers have not received any response when contacting the company by e-mail or through the helpline.

  • Function words do not typically have synonyms. Because any is a determiner it will have no synonyms although since it is also a negative polarity item, there are alternate ways to express this.
    – tchrist
    Mar 22, 2017 at 23:17
  • What about rewriting it as "have received no response"
    – Raj 33
    Nov 26, 2017 at 10:12

3 Answers 3


Using any provides emphasis. In this example, the emphasis occurs in two ways.

First, more than one customer may have expected a response, but not one of them has received a response. The emphasis is that out of all of those expecting a response, none received one. This is a stronger claim than saying that only a few received a response, or leaving that possibility open for interpretation, for example.

Second, it can be interpreted to mean that no customer received a response in any possible form. For example, no one received an email, a letter, a text, a phone call, or a smoke signal. This is stronger than simply saying the airline didn't respond. It claims that the customers might have found any type of response acceptable, yet no method was used whatsoever.

Of these two cases, determining if one or the other cases was intended can't be determined by the sentence alone. But it can be said that, intention aside, the words support the claim that both cases are true.

Replacing any with a might have the same literal meaning, but the emphasis is lost.

  • Thank you very much for your ambitious answer. I think I'll replace "any" with "a" even if the emphasis is lost. Thanks a lot once again!
    – Julia
    Mar 22, 2017 at 23:30
  • Jim is absolutely right. If I were reading a customer service report I would be interested to hear about the standards of customer service (obviously) and failure to provide any response to some customers (even on would be bad) is a pretty serious failure of customer service that I would expect to be highlighted for example by using "any" as shown.
    – JeremyC
    Jan 31, 2018 at 16:46

I think 'any' is perfectly fine to use here, although I would change the tense in the "contacting" part:

Several Hurrah Airlines customers have not received any response when they contacted the company by e-mail or through the helpline.

I think the usage of 'any' here is to emphasise that absolutely no response was received. I would freely use 'any' here, except in the most formal and polite of contexts, where I think 'a' would be more prudent:

Several Hurrah Airlines customers have not received a response when they contacted the company by e-mail or through the helpline.

Of course, this does lack the emphasis that 'any' gives, but whether that is needed would depend on the context.

  • Thank you very much for your answer! This phrase occurs in a formal context (a customer service report). Therefore "a" would might be the right word in this context. Thank you again for informing me about the possibilities!
    – Julia
    Mar 22, 2017 at 23:33
  • "When they contacted they got no responce" - this really means that they did neither answer the phone upon calling nor the email upon recieving. Apr 26, 2017 at 17:10

I think, it is correct to say the phrase without any. Or you can say ...have not received one response when contacting....

  • Neither "one" nor the omition of "any" is correct here. You cpuld place "a" instead of "any" though, this wouldn't change the meaning. Apr 26, 2017 at 17:08

You must log in to answer this question.