Should I use singular or plural nouns with if any?

  • If any contestant does not follow the rules, he/she will be expelled from the competition.

  • If any contestants do not follow the rules, they will be expelled from the competition.

If they are both correct, Would you prefer a singular noun or a plural one after if any?

I know It's better to say:

  • Any contestant not following the rules will be expelled from the competition.

For a non native speaker like me, It is a problem to decide whether I should use plural or singular nouns after if any.

Can anyone who is a teacher or has good knowledge of the language please explain this?

Thanks In advance.

2 Answers 2


I'm pretty sure 'any' is an adjective in your two example sentences. See M-W definition #1.

Adjectives do not give number to the nouns they modify, and the use of 'if' is irrelevant. So the verb must simply agree in number with the noun, either 'contestant' or 'contestants'.

Both of those examples are correct.

  • It's more accurate to say that few adjectives in English mark number. For example, "few". Also, "many", "one", "this", "these", and "several" others. In these cases, there must be numeric agreement between the adjectives and the nouns they directly modify. Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 15:49
  • I would have thought examples were determiners rather than adjectives. Am I missing something? Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 16:05
  • Also Gary, could you look at a question I asked you under "Why this sentence is grammatically incorrect"? Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 16:11
  • A difference in perspective and terminology. One perspective considers determiner to be a word class separate from adjective. Another considers it a semantic role that some adjectives sometimes fill. In "this one example", "this" takes a determinative role and "one" takes a descriptive role. In "one example", that same word "one" is determinative. Did the word class change? Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 16:18
  • And I'm still pondering whether there's a relationship between telicity and the use of perfect aspect constructions. Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 16:21

To my own ear as a native speaker 'any contestants' is uncomfortable for whatever reason.

I would always say 'If any of the contestants ...' or 'if any among the contestants'.

One is singling out from among a plural.

I wait for comments or down-votes to tell me if I am wrong . . .

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