Any Is or Are: Is Any Singular or Plural?

Summary

Any may be used as a singular or a plural pronoun, depending on whether it refers to “at least one” or “one or more.” You may use either a singular verb like is or a plural verb like are with any (although use of the plural is more common).

Examples
  • Plural: Are any of the students working on the project?
    one or more of them
  • Singular: Is any of them awake?
    at least one

When any refers to a singular uncountable noun, it is always singular.

Example
  • Is/are any of the information available yet?

As a determiner, any is generally followed by uncountable and plural countable nouns in questions and negative statements.

Examples
  • Is there any water left in the bottle?
  • Does she have any enemies?
  • I don’t have any water.
  • She doesn’t have any enemies.

With singular countable nouns, use a/an rather than any.

Examples
  • Have you ever eaten any/an apple?
  • I have never eaten any/an apple.

But note that any may be used with a singular countable noun to lend emphasis or to mean “it does not matter which.”

Examples
  • Do you have any idea what you have done?
  • Any car will do.

When to use any

The word any can be used as a pronoun or a determiner. (A pronoun functions as a noun phrase, while a determiner appears before a noun and clarifies its reference.)

Examples
  • Pronoun: Have you read any of her books?
    functions as a noun phrase: whichever books are being referred to
  • Determiner: Have you read any books written by her?
    reference to a number or quantity

The pronoun any refers to one or more of a group. Use it to speak of at least one or more than one of a set of persons or things.

Examples
  • “Can I have some oranges?” “Sorry, there aren’t any.”
  • Is any of these options still available?
  • Are any of you planning to work today?

Any can also refer to quantity.

Examples
  • “Could I have some milk?” “There isn’t any.”
  • Is any of this useful to you?
  • Is any of the soda we bought yesterday still in the car?

Any is often followed by the preposition of.

Examples
  • Do any of these come in blue?
  • Is any of this data useful to you?
  • Are any of these for sale?

Any is also used as a determiner before a noun, generally in questions and negative statements.

Examples
  • Are there any marbles left in the bag?
  • Do you have any money I can borrow?
  • I don’t have any marbles.
  • I don’t have any money.

In this article, we discuss whether the pronoun any should be used with singular or plural verbs: is any or are any of them ready? We also discuss whether any as a determiner can be followed by singular or plural nouns: any query or any queries?

Is any singular or plural?

Any may be either a singular or a plural pronoun, depending on whether it means “at least one” or “one or more.” To refer at least one of a group, use a singular verb like is. To refer to more than one of a group, use a plural verb like are.

Examples
  • Are any of you coming to the party?
    one or more of you
  • Is any of you going to help me?
    at least one of you
Tip

Any is used as a pronoun in questions, negative statements, and conditionals.

Examples
  • Question: Are any of them here?
  • Negative statement: Sorry, I don’t have any.
  • Conditional: I need some more marbles. Let me know if you find any.
  • Conditional: If any of you have a spare laptop, let me know.

Reference to countable nouns

When any is used as a pronoun in questions to refer to countable nouns, it can be used with either singular or plural verbs: is any or are any. When you use a plural verb (like are any), you are asking about “one or more” of a number. When you use a singular verb (like is any), you are asking about “at least one” of a number.

Example
  • Are any of your rooms available?
    referring to one or more
    Is any of your rooms available?
    referring to at least one, but there may be more

Here are some more examples.

Examples
  • Is/are any of them ready?
  • Is/are any of the books on sale?
  • Is/are any of my answers correct?
  • Is/are any of the students absent today?
  • Does/do any of you know the answer?
  • Has/have any of them called yet?
Note

Any and some have similar meanings but slightly different use cases. The pronoun any instead of some is used in negative statements.

Example
  • “Do you have some marbles?” “Sorry, I don’t have some/any.”

When any is used instead of some in questions, it is more open-ended.

Example
  • Would like to try some of these muffins?
    Expecting a positive answer.
    Are any of these vegan?
    Open-ended: May or may not be vegan.

Any of a number can also be used in conditional statements, either as singular or plural (although plural use is more common).

Examples
  • If any of the students needs/need my help, let me know.
  • If any of the balloons bursts/burst, replace it/them immediately.
  • Unless any of them reports/report the crime, we can’t take action.

In negative statements, the pronoun any is used to refer to a plural number rather than a singular countable noun.

Examples
  • Plural: “Can I borrow a couple of pens from you?” “Sorry, I don’t have any.”
    to refer to a plural number
  • Singular: “Can I borrow a pen?” “Sorry, I don’t have any/one.”

Reference to uncountable nouns

With singular uncountable nouns (also called mass nouns), any is singular. This is because uncountable nouns (like water, furniture, jewelry) are thought of in terms of quantity rather than a countable number.

Examples
  • Has/have any of the water been filtered?
    any amount of
  • Is/are any of your jewelry insured?
  • Is/are any of this information useful to you?
  • Does/do any of this rust?

Here are some more examples of any being considered singular when it refers to singular uncountable nouns.

Examples
  • “Is there some water in the bottle?” “There isn’t any.”
  • “We’ve ordered too much pizza.” “Well, if there is any left, we can have it for breakfast.”
  • “I need milk. Is there any in the fridge?”

When any refers to plural uncountable nouns, it is always plural. (Plural uncountable nouns are always used in the plural form, never in the singular.)

Examples
  • Are any of the scissors sharpened?
  • Why aren’t any of your trousers ever ironed?
  • Are any of the sunglasses on sale?

Is any used with singular or plural nouns?

In questions and negative statements, any generally appears as a determiner with a plural countable noun or an uncountable noun. It can also appear before a singular countable noun to lend emphasis to a sentence.

Examples
  • Do you have any books I can borrow?
  • Is any oil needed in this recipe?
  • This house doesn’t have any furniture in it.
  • The Pole Star can be seen at any hour of the night at any time of the year from any place in the Northern Hemisphere.

With uncountable and plural countable nouns

Any is used with uncountable or plural countable nouns in questions. (Countable nouns refer to things that can be counted, while uncountable or mass nouns refer to a quantity.)

Examples
  • Is there any water left in the bottle?
  • Is he wearing any trousers?
  • Are there any books in the bag?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

When any is used with singular uncountable nouns, the verb used is singular.

Examples
  • Is/Are there any water left in the bottle?
  • Is/Are there any milk in the fridge?
  • Is/Are there any money in the purse?

Any is also used with uncountable and plural countable nouns in negative statements.

Examples
  • There isn’t any milk left in the bottle.
  • Sorry, I don’t have any water to spare.
  • Farley doesn’t have any money.
  • There aren’t any scissors in the salon.
  • There aren’t any books in the bag.
  • They don’t seem to have any questions for us at the moment.

In conditionals as well, any is used with uncountable and plural countable nouns.

Examples
  • If you need any help with the project, let me know.
  • If you meet any monsters, use the magic ring.
  • Let me know if you have any questions.

With singular countable nouns

Any is not generally used with singular countable nouns. Instead, we use the indefinite article a/an.

Examples
  • Do you have any/a pen in your bag?
  • Can I get any/an answer today?
  • We are at the lake, but there isn’t any/a boat in sight.

Note that it is not grammatically wrong to use any before a singular countable noun. Such a construction can lend emphasis to a conditional or a question.

Examples
  • If you have any problem at all, let me know.
  • I can help you with any query you may have.
  • Do you have any idea why this may have happened?
  • Is there any way that I can help you?
  • Is there any cure at all, Doctor?

Any followed by a singular countable noun can also indicate that you are referring to an example of a class of things, and that it does not matter which particular thing it is.

Examples
  • “Which car would you like?” “Oh, any car will do. I’m not particular.”
  • I need a book to read on the flight. Any book will do.
  • This is a book any child would love.
  • This game can be gifted to a child of any age.
  • I like sci-fi, but we can watch any movie you like.

Some and no in place of any

Not any may be replaced by no in negative statements. Note that no is more emphatic than not any and can sound more formal.

Examples
  • I haven’t any plans.
    or
    I have no plans.
  • I don’t have any money.
    or
    I have no money.

In questions, some can convey that the speaker expects a positive response, while any is more neutral.

Examples
  • Would you like some more orange juice?
    Expectation that the person would like to have more orange juice.
  • Would you like any more tea or coffee?
    More open-ended: the person may or may not want a beverage.

In negative questions, any instead of some is used, expecting a negative response.

Examples
  • Don’t you have any money?
    Expectation that the person has no money.
  • Do you have some money I could borrow?
    Expecting a positive answer.

Finally, some instead of any is generally used in affirmative statements. Any is used in negative statements.

Examples
  • Affirmative: There is some water left in this bottle.
    Negative: There isn’t any water left in this bottle.
  • Affirmative: There are some books still in the bag.
    Negative: There aren’t any books in the bag.

Anyone, anybody, anything: Singular or plural?

The pronouns anyone, anybody, and anything refer to one person or thing and are always singular.

Examples
  • Is/are anybody home?
  • Why doesn’t/don’t anyone ever listen to me?
  • Is/are there anything I can help you with?

Sometimes, we use any one in place of any to emphasize an example of a class, regardless of which one in particular.

Examples
  • Is any one of you ready?
  • Any one of these will do.

Examples from literature

Here are some examples of the pronoun any used with singular and plural verbs.

Examples
  • Half the trouble in life is caused by pretending there isn’t any.
    Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905)
  • The best of a bad job is all any of us make of it—except of course, the saints.
    T.S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party, a Comedy (1949)
  • ‘Mankind has lost its own say in its future.’ ‘It never had any, really.’
    Isaac Asimov, I, Robot (1950)
  • How real is any of the past, being every moment revalued to make the present possible.
    William Gaddis, The Recognitions (1955)
  • What is any of this to us?
    Tanith Lee, Delirium’s Mistress (1985)
  • After all, what are any of us after but the conviction of belonging?
    Wallace Stegner, On Teaching and Writing Fiction (2002)

And here are some examples of any used as a determiner in writing. Note how it is used before a plural noun in negative statements, but before a singular noun in affirmative statements.

Examples
  • There aren’t any answers to be found. There are no good choices.
    Brandon Sanderson, Steelheart (2013)
  • I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12.
    Stephen King, Different Seasons (1982)
  • Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those that live on it.
    — Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky (1950)
  • Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives.
    — Isaac Asimov, Foundation (1942)

Quick Quiz

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Did You Know?

Two or more noun phrases together form a compound subject.
Know more:What Is a Compound Subject?