I saw someone post on Facebook and one of the commenter suggested the correction. I.e the original sentence is:

This question often comes to my mind whenever I study any subjects.

The person, suggested that the poster should have used singular like this

This question often comes to my mind whenever I study any subject.

Could you tell me the reason behind this? Beforehand, I've read this discussion and one of the answerer said that using singular is appropriate when the singular is followed by (how, what, which, etc). In this case, after the singular, it's ended by a period.

  • 1
    Was the poster talking about studying one subject or several? Commented Dec 9, 2021 at 11:51
  • 2
    The person who suggested making a change was mistaken. I'm sure singular any subject would be more common for this exact context, but syntactically speaking there's nothing wrong with plural any subjects. Commented Dec 9, 2021 at 12:06
  • @KateBunting err it's not clear sorry. Probably several.
    – user516076
    Commented Dec 9, 2021 at 12:30
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    As explained in one of the answers to the question you linked, the choice of whether to use a singular or plural noun with ‘any’ is often a matter of what is idiomatic, not what is grammatical.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Dec 9, 2021 at 12:53
  • It is possible to study anything other than a subject? When I think, I think thoughts but I never tell people that. I just tell them I'm thinking. They know I'm thinking thoughts. This question often comes to mind when I study. Words like whenever and subject(s) are just clutter, drop them.
    – EllieK
    Commented Dec 9, 2021 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


I add to the points mentioned in the comments.

According to Cambridge Dictionary

Any as a determiner has two forms: a strong form and a weak form.

Strong form any means ‘it does not matter which’ and can be used with all types of nouns including singular nouns, plural nouns, and noncount nouns, as shown in the examples below.

When you make a late booking, you don’t know where you’re going to go, do you? It could be any destination. (+ singular countable noun)

We could choose any colours we wanted. (+ plural countable noun)

In our case,

This question often comes to my mind whenever I study any subjects/subject.

any takes the meaning of it does not matter which. It is hence a strong form, and we can use both singular and plural nouns.

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    This is just simply wrong. While the distinction between strong and weak is correct, the determination as to whether the usage is strong or weak is incorrect. Commented Dec 9, 2021 at 14:02

The word "any" in its strong form can be used with singular or plural nouns. We must look to context to see what is being referred to to make the determination.

Presumably you are not generally studying more than one subject at a time. When this question comes to mind, although it does not matter what the subject is, there is still only one of them that you are studying at that time. Thus the correct form is the singular. Think of the sentence as a short form of:

"This question often comes to mind whenever I study any (one) subject"

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    While at college I studied many subjects at the same time. The difficulty with the sentence is that it's focused on details of the study when it should be focused on this question coming to mind when I study. The sentence has absolutely nothing to do with what the speaker is studying. Why get bogged down parsing meaningless words? Does a different question come to mind when she studies two subjects? Concurrently or chronologically? What if one subject is hard science and the other language arts? Who cares! Not important here.
    – EllieK
    Commented Dec 9, 2021 at 15:41

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