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What is the difference between a and any in the following sentence? Are they both grammatical in the following sentence? 

  • Yesterday I went to a village that appeared to be totally uninhabited. After a mile of walking I did not find a house/any house(s) in that area.

What's difference do a house and any houses make in the sentence? And can I use any house instead of any houses in the sentence?

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I would say they are both correct, and have the same meaning in this context. The difference between "a" and "any" is hard to explain, but you can think of it like this:

Is there a house? Yes. Are there any houses? Yes, there are 3.

If there is a house, there is one house. Even if there are multiple houses, one house is included in that.

If there are any houses, there are some houses there. There may or may not be more than one.

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You can say "I did not find any house" as well as "I did not find any houses" because "any" can be used with both singular and plural nouns.

Both "a" and "any" would be grammatically correct in the sentence (make sure to use "a" only with "house", not "houses" - "a" can precede only singular countable nouns).

If you say "I did not find a house", you mean there wasn't even one house. If you use "any", you mean "there wasn't a house of any kind" (there were no houses at all, no matter what house you might think about: big or small, brick or wooden etc.).

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