I have a question regarding usage of any. My question is, can I omit any in cases like the following? I have a grammar book named 'Practical English Usage' written by Michael Swan that says "With an uncountable or plural noun, 'any' usually suggests the idea of an indefinite but limited amount or number. When there is no idea of a limited quantity or number, we do not usually use 'any'. And It also says when our Interest is in knowing the the existense of something not knowing its amount or its number, we don't use 'any'. So what are the differences between my following sentences? Can I omit any?

1- Do you have any children/children? (can I omit 'any' here?"

2- I don't have any cars/cars. I go to college by bus.

3- Yesterday, I did not buy any flowers/flowers from the market.


To my ears, the sentence "I don't have any cars" is a bit strange in the first place. I'm not sure if that is because it is more usual to have one car rather than many, whereas it is frequent to have more than one child; or because the point of the sentence is not about how many cars you have but whether you have your own method of transport at all.

But "I don't have cars" would be even more strange. The right way to say this is "I don't have a car".


Yes, sure, you can omit "any" in all of your sentences.

If you say, "Do you have any children?", it sounds like you are interested if there is one child, two, or maybe three (who knows?)... You are more interested in the number saying "any" than if you decide not to use "any". Your book explains it very well - "any" suggests the idea of an indefinite but limited amount or number.

"I don't have any car/cars" is similar. It's like, "I don't have any number of cars" or "I don't have any kind of car/cars."

"Yesterday I didn't buy any flowers. (I didn't buy roses, tulips, orchids or any other flowers).

So, note that "any" suggests the idea of an amount/number and a kind/sort of things.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .