2

Do both these sentences mean the same?

  1. This type of economic policy can be harmful for a nation.

  2. This type of economic policy can be harmful for any nation.

  • The first talks about the nation that is harming itself by having a certain type of policy. The other is less clear - if the type of policy will harm other nations too - but it is likely meant that the policy would harm any nation implementing it – mplungjan Sep 15 '17 at 16:15
  • The first is the unmarked version. I'd use the second only for emphasis based on contrast: << This type of economic policy can be harmful for any nation – and Elbonia's national debt is in the quadrillions. >> – Edwin Ashworth Sep 15 '17 at 16:33
  • @Edwin: In your context, the implied emphasis implies - least of all Elbonia!, but suppose the writer was talking about the US economy instead of Elbonia, and the preceding sentence had been Bigger countries can protect themselves against downsides, but only to a certain extent. Then the implied emphasis could be - even the US! Which seems kinda "opposite" to me. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 15 '17 at 17:32
  • @FF That's the nature of contrasts. / Elbonia never seems to mind being singled out for abuse. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 15 '17 at 18:05
  • @FF I've been wrongly directed here again, but on re-reading your comment, I have to disagree. I'd use 'This type of economic policy can be harmful for any nation ... and as for Elbonia, ...' – Edwin Ashworth Sep 15 '17 at 18:53
1

There is a subtle difference.

This type of economic policy can be harmful for any nation

Any emphasizes that nations other than our own are included. You can think of this sentence as having a hidden "not just your nation" or "not just our nation" attached to it.

This type of economic policy can be harmful for a nation

This is a neutral statement that simply comments on a policy.

0

Yes. "A" being an indefinite article, you are not referring to a specific nation. "Any" is functioning as a pronoun (standing in for "one" country), which makes it an indefinite article in this context, again not referring to a specific nation. So while it might seem that the meanings could be different, it's really too subtle to matter.

  • I don't agree. There is enough difference to matter because what may not matter to "a" or "one" nation, could very much matter to a substantial number of nations that are part of the "any nation" list. – Kristina Lopez Sep 15 '17 at 20:01
  • The speaker is trying to convey that the policy is harmful on a national level. Is there any difference between saying "to a nation" or "at the national level." No? Then my previous answer stands. There is a difference between "all nations" (meaning the world) and "a nation" meaning any nation. But that's not what the OP asked. – user8356 Sep 15 '17 at 20:54
  • @KristinaLopez -- Your comment could be the start of a good answer. – Jasper Apr 2 '19 at 23:01

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