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"It's the first time I'm doing any appearance as a person that stars in the Lion King."

Should it be "first time doing an appearance" or "first time doing any appearance"?

Since it is the first time "an" seems to sound better than "any". Moreover, this is not a question sentence or a negative sentence where we usually need "any".

Still, not being a native speaker, I want to ask: should it be "an" or "any"?

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  • Would you mind saying "in the sentence below" rather than that long thing which is more easily read in the question rather than the title. Thanks.
    – Lambie
    Jan 11, 2023 at 21:16
  • any implies an amount or quantity. Do you have any sugar? Ergo, there is no need for it.
    – Lambie
    Jan 11, 2023 at 21:17
  • "as a person that stars in the Lion King" is a strange phrasing. I would have just said "an appearance in the Lion King", because it would be very strange to be anything other than a person!
    – stangdon
    Jan 11, 2023 at 21:56
  • @Lambie, it implies amount or quantity, but it happens in negative sentences or question sentences. The sentence in question is neither of them. That is why it sounded different to me.
    – Yunus
    Jan 12, 2023 at 8:34
  • Do you have any time? Do you have **any money?
    – Lambie
    Jan 12, 2023 at 15:16

3 Answers 3

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Both versions are grammatically correct and natural, but they have different nuances. Which one is correct depends on context that I don't know.

Here, an has the normal meaning of "one among many", and simply expresses that this person has done many appearances, but this is their first time specifically doing an appearance as a star of Lion King.

In contrast, any strongly emphasizes that this is the really their first time, and they have never done such an appearance before. This level of emphasis is only used when it should surprise the listener that this is the first time.

So, if the movie just came out, it shouldn't surprise anyone that this is their first appearance, and only "an" works.

But if they movie came out years ago, it would be quite surprising that they hadn't made an appearance since then, so "any" works much better, though "an" is still grammatically correct.

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  • I have never done any washing by hand in the bathtub.

any implies a quantity or amount

  • Have you got any cash on you?

  • This is the first time I'm making an appearance as A in B.

any is not used with countable nouns in the singular.

[the only issue is that we'd probably say: the first time I'm appearing in x]

[A gift: It's the first time I'm appearing as a character in The Lion King].

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  • The first two sentences are either question or negative sentence, which is all right for using any. But our sentence is not a sentence of those sorts. So, examples do not seem to apply here.
    – Yunus
    Jan 12, 2023 at 8:37
  • As Lambie says, we make an appearance, we don't do one. Jan 12, 2023 at 9:26
  • @yunus You ask about any or an. I've explained quite carefully the use of any versus an. Of course, one cannot use any with a count noun in the singular.
    – Lambie
    Jan 12, 2023 at 18:44
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One of Google's definitions of any is helpful:

  • used to express a lack of restriction in selecting one of a specified class:

Any in the affirmative carries that implication - no restriction in selection.

A/an does not carry that implication - it's simply a signal that the speaker/writer doesn't need the reader/listener to have followed which X is being spoken of from previous context or conversation.

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