Is there a difference between not a + singular noun and not any + plural noun in negative sentences? Can I use any with singular nouns? Many people says any should be used with plural nouns in negative sentences. But I have seen many books that says It can be used with singular nouns to in negative sentences. Can any teacher or an expert please clarify?

  1. Last month, I went to a book store. I did not buy any book there.
  2. Last month, I went to a book store. I did not buy a book there.
  • My feeling is that any makes the negation stronger. Jan 23, 2019 at 8:22
  • 1
    As a technicality, 1) should be "any books there." Jan 23, 2019 at 8:40

1 Answer 1


The first sentence says that you haven't bought "any books" there. You clearly and unambiguously bought zero books.

The second sentence says that you didn't buy "a book" there. Technically, that could be interpreted to mean a couple of things:

1) You went to by a specific book, but then didn't.

2) There is some particular book that you strongly dislike, and didn't buy from this place for some reason.

3) You may or may not have bought books there, but left at least 1 book remaining in the store if you did buy some.

Generally, without further context, I'd interpret the second sentence as equivalent to the first, but the first is more explicit.

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