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In my book there is a chapter with "There is/are". Is it ok to say: "There aren't cats in..." instead of "There aren't any cats in...".

The second example sounds better but I wonder if the first sentence is also correct.

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, Nathan Tuggy, ColleenV, Glorfindel, JMB Sep 16 '15 at 21:50

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    If you phrase such a question using 'any', it implies that there is a possibility or an expectation that there might be. Without the ';any', there is a subtle implication that this is the normal state of affairs. E.g. "There isn't any food in the cupboard" compared to "There isn't food in the bathroom". – Steve Ives Sep 16 '15 at 13:06
  • If I remember correctly, any is a "negative polarity item" here (pardon the jargon). – CowperKettle Sep 16 '15 at 14:49
  • @SteveIves - I strongly disagree with that implication. Use of 'any' in this context has nothing to do with whether the situation is expected or not. You would say "There isn't any food in the bathroom", not "There isn't food in the bathroom". – Jon Story Sep 16 '15 at 15:50
  • @Jon - I agree it's very subtle. I can imagine someone saying "There isn't any food in the bathroom! and getting the answer "Did you expect there to be?". Or perhaps "There aren't any cats in the street (and there usually are)" as opposed to "There aren't tigers in the English countryside".(A blanket statement). To me, such a statement without 'any' implies that this is the normal state of affairs where as with 'any' it implies that this is a transient state that may change over time. YMMV. – Steve Ives Sep 16 '15 at 16:01
  • @SteveIves: To me, it would be much more natural to say "There is no food in the bathroom" and "There are no tigers in the English countryside" (with emphasis on the verb) in those situations. – Amadan Sep 16 '15 at 23:14
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Aren't is short for 'Are not'. So basically you would be saying 'there are not cats in the kitchen'... which sounds a bit odd.

You'd better pick one of the following: there are no cats in the kitchen or there aren't any cats in the kitchen

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