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Hi,
this is the problem: in negative sentences we usually use any + plural noun. I don't have any sisters (not "any sister", at least in common contexts). I was pretty confident, but look:

I didn't find that idiom in any dictionary.

Is it dictionary or dictionaries? If it's dictionary, then it's not true that we should always use any + plural noun in negative senteces... maybe we should use any + plural only when any + plural noun is the object of the verb? I'm pretty confused now...

Thanks Emotion: smile
Comments  
Hi Kooyeen

To me you'd use the singular to stress the idea "not one single one, no matter which". That would be similar to the way 'any' is sometimes used in positive sentences:

You can find that word in any dictionary (no matter which one you look it up in).
Thank you Yankee.
I think I understand, but, to put it another way, what confuses me is this difference:
  • I searched the net, but I didn't find any dictionaries. Can you recommend some?
  • I looked up that idiom, but I didn't find it in any dictionary. So, what does it mean?
As you can see, the senteces are similar, they are both negative, but...
Maybe it depends on the fact that "dictionary" in the second sentence is not the object of the verb...

Thanks Emotion: smile
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it's not true that we should always use any + plural noun in negative senteces... maybe we should use any + plural only when any + plural noun is the object of the verb? I'm pretty confused now...
Join the (confused) club! I think you're on the right track. I have not done the research on it myself, but maybe you can! All you need is about 500 sentences that use any. In that many examples, a pattern should begin to develop. Emotion: smile

My intuition is that the plural is used in complements and the singular in adjuncts. And my intuition could very easily be wrong.

CJ
Uh! I see I found out some confusing stuff for real then! Emotion: stick out tongue

Well, if my "rule" works, I should be fine. And sentences like this one should be fine too:

If I won't shoot at any soldier, I won't kill any soldiers.

I just wonder if any other form of that sentence is possible and acceptable (changing soldier to soldiers or vice versa).

Thanks. Emotion: smile
KooyeenHi,
this is the problem: in negative sentences we usually use any + plural noun. I don't have any sisters (not "any sister", at least in common contexts). I was pretty confident, but look:

I didn't find that idiom in any dictionary.

Is it dictionary or dictionaries? If it's dictionary, then it's not true that we should always use any + plural noun in negative senteces... maybe we should use any + plural only when any + plural noun is the object of the verb? I'm pretty confused now...

Thanks Emotion: smile
The main point is the different structure of two sentensences. The first on is do not + any sisters,this sentencese is trying to show the point you dont have sister(use plural). The second one is do not + at/in+ any dictionary,this is trying to describe that

it is impossibe to find the idiom form the any one dictinary(one of many dictionary).
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KooyeenUh! I see I found out some confusing stuff for real then! Emotion: stick out tongue

Well, if my "rule" works, I should be fine. And sentences like this one should be fine too:

If I won't shoot at any soldier, I won't kill any soldiers.

I just wonder if any other form of that sentence is possible and acceptable (changing soldier to soldiers or vice versa).

Thanks. Emotion: smile
Hi Kooyeen

I still think the emphasis is on the idea of 'one' and a choice or it doesn't matter which one (i.e. similar to the reason that 'any' sometimes appears in positive sentences.)

What do you think of these sentences?

  • I'm not looking for just any doctor -- I'm looking for the best! (I want the best one.)
  • We didn't see any reason to cancel. (Of all the possible reasons, there wasn't an adequate one.)
  • There isn't any excuse for what you've done. (It doesn't matter what excuse you give me; there isn't even one that's acceptable.)
If I won't shoot at any soldier, I won't kill any soldiers.
Just my point. In both cases I would use the plural because both are complements, not adjuncts. That's why I said complement rather than object. shoot at is a prepositional verb with complement soldier. (I think you meant If I don't shoot ...) The conditional may also be complicating things.

That aside, more problems are on the horizon with Yankee's examples, in which some abstract nouns are used in the singular (excuse, reason). Emotion: smile

The whole problem may boil down to whether one or more than one of the thing in question is usually considered usual or normal in the context of the sentence.

Oh, how awful! He doesn't have any ears!
Oh, how awful! He doesn't have any nose!
(not noses.)

CJ
Thank you very much, Jim and Yankee.
CalifJim
If I won't shoot at any soldier, I won't kill any soldiers.
Just my point. In both cases I would use the plural because both are complements, not adjuncts. That's why I said complement rather than object. shoot at is a prepositional verb with complement soldier. (I think you meant If I don't shoot ...) The conditional may also be complicating things.
Yes, I think that really makes sense, I should have used "soldiers" in both cases. I think it's really a matter of complements or objects of the verb. I feel a little more confident now! Emotion: stick out tongue

Thank you again.
Emotion: smile
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