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  1. All I ask is a chance to prove I'm as good as the best of "any" generation.

  2. All I ask is a chance to prove I'm as good as the best of "all" generations.

Both 1—quoted from The New York Times—and 2—mine—sentences are grammatical, I hope, but are "any" and "all" really interchangeable in the case above?

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    I am not sure but I think "all" means the generations which took birth till now and "any" means I am the best of the generations which took birth till now and will be the best forever for the coming generations. – Mistu4u Mar 18 '13 at 17:28
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    @Mistu4u I added your comment to my answer. – Trish Rempel Mar 18 '13 at 17:35
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    @TrishRempel, It is okay and it gives me pleasure finding out that I am not the only supporter for my own interpretation. :) – Mistu4u Mar 18 '13 at 17:39
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Both of the sentences sound a little weird to me, I think it is the "good as the best" part. Or maybe it is my confusion on how, empirically, would you compare yourself cross-generationally?

That aside though, I don't think there's a remarkable difference between "best of any generation" and "best of all generations."

EDIT: @Mitsu4u is correct in that the meaning of the sentence changes with the use of all; its meaning implies that you would be comparing yourself to the best person since the beginning of time.

A more natural-sounding phrase overall might be:

All I ask is a chance to prove that my worth matches that of the best of any generation.

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It sounds weird to me because I read the sentences with different meaning:

1 . All I ask is a chance to prove I'm as good as the best of any generation.

Here it sounds like you're comparing yourself to the best people from any generation.

2 . All I ask is a chance to prove I'm as good as the best of all generations.

Here it sounds like you're comparing yourself to the best generation. You're a person, though, not a generation, so that's silly. I have to assume that's not what you meant and reinterpret the sentence, which I find a bit awkward.

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Both sentences mean pretty much the same thing.

If someone is "as good as the best of any generation", then you're saying that you could pick any generation that has ever been, pick the best person of that generation, and the speaker is as good as that person.

If someone is "as good as the best of all generations", then you could take the people who were the best of all the generations that have ever been, and the speaker is as good as all of them.

Both ideas mean essentially the same thing.

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