Which is the right answer?

  1. There isn't any money in the pot.
  2. There isn't money in the pot.
  3. There aren't money in the pot.
  4. There are money in the pot.
  • 1
    Welcome to ELL. Is this a school exercise? If not, where did it come from? Either A or B may be correct, but they mean different things, so trying to identify what the "right" answer is here requires some knowledge of what skill is being tested.
    – choster
    Sep 14, 2017 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


English distinguishes between countable nouns and uncountable (mass) nouns.

Mass nouns are treated as singular in terms of agreement. They are not used with an indefinite article (a) nor in the plural. "Money", "mud", "sugar", "cheese", "happiness" are examples of mass nouns.

Have you any cheese? / Yes, I have a lot of cheese.

I haven't got much salt left.

Our happiness is important.

Many mass nouns can also be treated as countable nouns but with a slightly different meaning. So although "sugar" is usually regarded as an uncountable mass, we could say "two sugars, please" if we're specifying how much sugar we want in our cup of coffee. Similarly, although "cheese" is usually a mass, we could say that "brie and cheddar are two different cheeses".

There are rare cases where the term "moneys" is used, as noted here. However, in general "money" is a mass noun (as the dictionary indicates with the notation "[mass noun]" on the Oxford Living Dictionaries site, or the notation "[U]" on the Cambridge site).

As a mass, it has no plural, isn't countable, and therefore takes a singular verb:

There isn't any money in the plot.

There isn't money in the pot.

These two sentences are both acceptable. The first one is probably more likely. The meanings are slightly different.

  • "There isn't any money in the pot" means "There is no money in the pot".
  • "There isn't money in the pot" could mean either that the pot unexpectedly contains something else instead, or that it contains a bit of money but not enough. For example, if my partner had told me that I should get a taxi and that I'd find money in the pot, but when checking the pot I found that it contained a couple of pounds but not nearly enough money for a taxi, I'd be justified in complaining that there wasn't money in the pot, after all - whereas it would be untrue for me to say that there wasn't any money in the pot.

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