Can anyone confirm the opinion of my high school English teacher that in negative sentences the indefinite article a/an changes into determiner any?
e.g. Do you have a house? --> I don't have any houses, not: I dont' have a house
or Do you have a pen? --> I don't have any pens, but I have a pencil.
She said that a/an was always positive and marked the existence of something in the sentence. In negative sentences it must be changed to any, which is a kind of further confirmation of negativeness as to the principle of double negative. She used to say that otherwise it looked unnatural.
Any can be either an indefinite adjective or an indefinite pronoun.:
Do you have a house? The answer to this question could be:
Yes, I have [ a house].
No, I don`t [have a house].
I don`t have any houses [that means more houses than one]- indefinite adjective.
Do you have a pen?
No, I don`t have any[ pens], or I don`t, or I don`t have a pen, but I have a pencil.
I haven`t received any mail - mail is an uncountable noun and we use it in the singular. Any is ,here, an indefinite adjective.
So, any as an indefinite adjective, can be used with nouns in the plural or in the singular.
any houses, any food
Ewelina, my answer to your question is this:
You cannot change an indefinite article into an indefinite adjective or indefinite pronoun. They are distinct parts of speech in English grammar:
The sentences I don`t have a house and I don`t have any houses are slightly different in meaning:
I don`t have a house = I haven`t got a house = I don`t possess a house.
I don`t have any houses = I haven`t got any houses = I don`t possess any houses.
Let`s consider these sentences in the affirmative:
I have a house. - one house
I have some houses - more than one.
I have some of the house - only a part of the house
Last edited by Teia; 13-Nov-2007 at 18:04.