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What is the difference between there was no, there was not a and there was not any?

  • Yesterday I visited a very undevelopped area in my tour of Africa. I rented a room in a hotel there. The hotel lacked basic facilites. There was no television set/ not a television set/ not any television set in the room.

  • To negate the sentence "there are some televison sets in The US." We can say either "There are not any/no television sets in The US."
  • But To negate the sentence "there is a twlevision set in my room.", is there only one way? Is there another way to say "there is no television in my room."
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cat deskdifference between there was no, there was not a and there was not any?

The middle one cannot be used with uncountable nouns. For example, you cannot say "There was not a furniture in the room" or "There was not a wine in the bottle". That's because uncountable nouns can't take "a".

Also, because you have a singular verb ("was"), you can only use singular nouns with these expressions. For example, you cannot say "There was no books".

cat deskThere was no television set/ not a television set/ not any television set in the room.

The most idiomatic and neutral form here is the first: There was no television set in the room. It's a simple statement.

The second one might be used to show surprise at not finding a television set where you thought you would find one. For example, suppose you went to a showroom for electronic equipment such as radios. You expected to see television sets, too, because you thought you might buy one, but you didn't see any. Later, you tell a friend, "We looked through the entire showroom, and there was not a television set in the room".

The third form does not seem completely idiomatic to me, but it might be used as an emphatic form to contradict a statement to the contrary.

— What did you think of the television set in that room?
— There was no television set in the room.
— That can't be true. Surely there was a television set in the room.
— No, no, no! I looked everywhere, and I can assure you there was not any television in the room.

CJ

Comments  

The following would be okay in the passage:


There was no television (set) in the room.

There was not a single television (set) in the hotel. (Note: But you can't say: There was not a single television set in the room.)

There weren't any television sets in the hotel. (Note: But you would not say: There weren't any television sets in the room.)

There weren't any televisions in the hotel.

 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.