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Let's say I am a high school student and I am talking to a group of students from another high school, and I think they are nicer than people at my school. So I want to let them know that. Can I say,

  • "You guys are really nice. There are not people like you at my school"

instead of

  • "You guys are really nice. There are not any people like you at my school"

The reason I am asking this is, I think I am used to seeing or hearing "any" in negative sentences that include "there" (sentences that include "there is not/are not" such as "There is not any hope", "There are not any breads left" etc.). So I wonder if it can be okay not to use "any" in this sentence.

  • Both are grammatical, commonly used, and mean the same thing in AmE. You're equally likely to hear both from a native speaker in my experience. (Most would contract "are not" to "aren't.") – d_b Mar 24 at 20:36
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    IMO it is more usual to say "There are no people like you at my school." – Weather Vane Mar 24 at 21:16
  • Thank you. Is it grammatical to not use "any" after "There aren't/There isn't" in any situation? It probably is but it can be more awkward in some situations I guess. I think I should open another topic for it. – Fire and Ice Mar 26 at 11:56
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Both are grammatically correct. And they mean the same thing.

"There are not people like you at my school" might be considered a little awkward. I'd probably say "There are no people like you at my school", or "There are not any ..." like your example. But it's correct as is and would not confuse anyone.

Side note: In your "bread" example, "bread" is a collective noun. You should not say, "There are not any breads left", but "There is not any bread left." Or you could say, "There are not any loaves of bread left" or "There are not any slices of bread".

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  • Thank you. Is it grammatical to not use "any" after "There aren't/There isn't" in any situation? It probably is but it can be more awkward in some situations I guess. I think I should open another topic for it. – Fire and Ice Mar 26 at 11:58
  • I'm inclined to say yes, that "any" adds emphasis but is not grammatically necessary. But I'm always cautious about saying "always" or "never" because there are millions of possible examples and I'm only thinking of a handful. – Jay Mar 26 at 14:12
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If you say, to the students at the other school, that there aren't any nice people like them at your school, you are saying something negative about the people at your school, but you are saying something positive or friendly about (and to) the people at the other school.

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  • Thank you, but I am talking about the fact that it includes the word "not". – Fire and Ice Mar 24 at 21:10
  • I am not sure what you mean by 'negative' then. If your aunt bakes you a nice cake and you say 'there are not any cakes like this served at my school' you are saying somethign positive about you aunt's cake. – Michael Harvey Mar 24 at 21:23
  • First, not would certainly be contracted into aren't in spoken English. Saying uncontracted not would be emphatic in an unusual way. Second, following there-insertion, the postposed subject noun phrase people like you would normally be quantified with any, both to mark the negation with a negative polarity item, and to emphasize the fact that the number is in fact zero. If necessary, the any can be stressed to increase emphasis even more. – John Lawler Mar 24 at 21:29

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