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Could you kindly explain me something?

One book tells me that: "any in meaning "not important which" can be used with plural and uncountable " (Murphy)
another one says:"with singular and uncountable"
the third claims: "with all nouns (in meaning = not important which)".
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Hi,
it can be used in a lot of ways, and I believe it's one of the most difficult things to understand in English... at least from my point of view. I've been learning English for quite a while but I still don't feel sure about it.

Any professional player would be able to do the same thing.
If you have any questions, give us a call.
This program will help you detect any viruses your PC might have.
Do you have any sisters?
Did you find that word in any dictionary(s)?


I still haven't found a rule.
EDIT: I just made up a rule. It could be that ANY + PLURAL means "some, not matter which", and ANY + SINGULAR means "one, no matter which". The problem is I feel this rule is not really accurate, because if you want to ask about "one" sister, you don't say "Do you have any sister?", but "Do you have a sister?"

And then you have complex examples where it appears in adverbial phrases:
Did you look for any viruses in any usb drive(s) with any cleaning tool(s)?

Still a mess for me, sorry. I think it's about time I understood this though, don't you think? LOL. Let's wait for some native speakers. Emotion: smile
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Yeah, it's true. We are about to find the truth Emotion: smile
Yes, thank you so much, Kooyeen. It seems to me that comprehension would only be intuitive. I wish they come.Emotion: smile
Hi,
Don't wait for me, because I'm not coming here.

I've already spent quite a lot of time on this question in your other thread.

Please post a question in just one thread.

Thank you, Clive
I thought you wouldn't appear. Anyway, thank you.
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Ok, I've been thinking about it, and this is the best analysis I can come up with.
Any has two major meanings:

1) Any = Some, like a kind of partitive, a determiner like "some". Used in negative sentences, questions, and parts of sentences introduced by "if". Always followed by nouns in the plural (except for some rare cases that won't be discussed here)
2) Any = No matter which. Used in every kind of sentence (negative, affirmative, questions). It can be followed by nouns in the singular (= any one, no matter which), or in the plural (= any group, no matter which). So the choice between singular or plural depends on the context and what you mean to convey.

Here are some examples. Comments in italics.

1 - Do you have any sisters? You might have some sisters. I am just asking.
2 - I don't have
any sisters. I have no sisters.
3 - Have you ever been to
any foreign countries? You might have been to some foreign countries. I am just asking.
4 - If you have any questions, give us a call. You might have some questions. If so, call us.
5 - Any teacher would tell you that practicing is important. Any one of them, no matter who.
6 - Any children found in possession of hallucinogenic lollipops will be arrested immediately. Any group of them, no matter which.
7 - This program will help you remove any viruses your PC might have. Any group of them. You probably have several viruses.
8 - I'll give you one toy for free. You can pick any toy you like in my store. Any toy, one toy.
9 - Hey hey! Wanna see a magic trick? Pick a card. Any card, come on. Any card, one card.
10 - Have you found
any traces of alien life in any / any planets yet? Red = Someone hopes to see some traces in some planets. Blue = Any group of planets, no matter which. Alien life is expected to be discovered in more than one planet. ---- This example shows how it is sometimes possible to consider "any" as both red and blue at the same time, with no difference in the overall meaning.
11 - Have you found any traces of alien life in any planet yet? Someone hopes to see some traces in one planet. Multiple discoveries in more than one planet are not expected or likely.
12 - I haven't found anything in any planet. Any planet, no matter which one I analyzed. Every planet I checked showed no traces of life.
13 - Have you found any of those mysterious words in any dictionary? Any dictionary, any one of them, no matter which. I don't expect those dictionaries to help much, but you might have found a couple of words in one of them.

This is my opinion, the best I have ever had on "any", LOL. I'd really like it if a native speaker took a look at it and told me their opinion. It took me a while to figure out of a sensible rule of thumb to illustrate the usage of "any", but I am a non-native speaker and so... I can't be sure of anything. But that was the best I could do! Did it make sense? Was it good? Emotion: stick out tongue
Yeah, it's awesome!Emotion: smile The best detailed answer I've ever seen! [Y]
Kooyeen1) Any = Some, like a kind of partitive, a determiner like "some". Used in negative sentences, questions, and parts of sentences introduced by "if". Always followed by nouns in the plural (except for some rare cases that won't be discussed here).
There is no way to use "any" with singular in that meaning. Don't you think?
2) Any = No matter which. Used in every kind of sentence (negative, affirmative, questions). It can be followed by nouns in the singular (= any one, no matter which), or in the plural (= any group, no matter which) and with uncountable nouns ("You may come at any time that is convenient to you"). So the choice between singular or plural depends on the context and what you mean to convey.
FandorinThere is no way to use "any" with singular in that meaning. Don't you think?
You can do that too, but it is not common, it's only used sometimes for emphasis. It's easy to build odd sentences that way, so I personally prefer to avoid using it that way, as a learner. When talking about one thing, using the article "a" (or "an") is the common way to say it...
Do you have a sister? Is there a hospital near here? I don't have a sister, you must be mistaking me for someone else...

I didn't consider uncountable nouns because they are not usually used in the plural, so they weren't part of our problem. I didn't consider idioms or exceptions either... I can think of a couple of them right now:
Is there any reason why you are not allowed to do that?
There isn't any way to find out the truth, I'm afraid.


The singular seems to be the idiomatic choice in those cases. Emotion: smile
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