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Would you please tell me which of the following terms is correct? If both are correct, are they equal?

  • I have no [...]
  • I don't have any [...]
  • I think we have a double negative here....which makes it a positive. RPP. – user27432 Dec 9 '15 at 7:34
10

Both terms are correct, however in colloquial registers we don't use no with physical possessions but with attitudes and desires.

For example we use I have no in phrases like

  • I have no idea what you are talking about.
  • She has no patience with that sort of stupidity.
  • We have no reason to think that will happen.
  • They have no right to treat us that way.
  • You had no business telling him what I said.
  • He had no desire to interfere.
  • They will have no need to change their approach.

but we use I don't have any in phrases like

  • I don't have any money.
  • We don't have any food.

Reference [for correct parts:)] : StoneyB

  • 1
    "I have no food in the house and no money to buy any" is a perfectly valid colloquial phrase. So "I don't have any reason to think that will happen". I don't think the "rule" you claim is real. – Nigel Harper Mar 14 '14 at 18:43
  • 1
    @NigelHarper: Yes, you're right, I think I have to complete this "rule" by a phrase like this : no has an absolute meaning that any hasn't. I mean "I have no food" is stronger than "I don't have any food". Do you agree? – mok Mar 14 '14 at 18:52
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    I'm not sure I do. Those 2 phrases mean the same thing to me. Any is as strong as no. What you can do with "don't" is use words other than "any" which alter the meaning. "I don't have much money but I can afford some noodles". – Nigel Harper Mar 14 '14 at 19:28
7

Both forms of negation are correct. The former is known as no-negation:

Dr Gillian McKeith has no medical qualification

whereas the latter is known as not-negation:

Dr Gillian McKeith doesn't have a medical qualification

The "Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English" contains a brief section (8.8.8) that discusses choosing between not-negation and no-negation. It affirms that not-negation is much more common, and that no-negation is rare in conversation and moderately more common in writing.

The choice between not-negation and no-negation may also carry in some cases additional meaning. For example, when I write:

She isn't a medical doctor

I'm simply stating that she doesn't hold a medical degree. But when I write:

She is no medical doctor

what I'm actually saying is that although one could have thought that Dr Gillian held a medical degree, she actually doesn't.

protected by Community Dec 25 '18 at 20:49

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