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  1. tzfujimino's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Dec 2007
    • Posts: 2,699

    no/not any How are they different?

    a.I have no pens.
    b.I don't have any pens.

    "No" is interchangeable with "not any".
    They have the same meaning.――― this is what I've been taught in Japan.

    However, as an English teacher(whose native tongue is Japanese), I can't give wrong information to my students.

    Are they really interchangeable? Or might there be a slight difference in meaning between them?

    Please help me. Thank you.

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 99

    Re: no/not any How are they different?

    I don't think there's any difference between them-they are indeed interchangeable. It's just a matter of taste what to prefer, i guess. If you use the verb in a sentence affirmatively, then make sure it is followed by a negative pronoun "no" as in: I have no enemies.
    If you prefer a negative verb, then use a "neutraliser" after it: She doesn't have any enemies. But be careful about using double negation in English-it's out of place here. Though many Russian learners of English enjoy doing that as they may be up to 3 negations in a Russian sentence (largely depends on the length of a sentence)
    Hope you will find this helpful.


  2. Soup's Avatar
    VIP Member
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 5,882

    Re: no/not any How are they different?


    There's a bit of an explanation here:
    BBC World Service | Learning English | Learn it (Scroll down to no = not a / not any).

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409

    Re: no/not any How are they different?

    There are a number of common nouns that normally combine with 'no', rather than 'not a' or 'not any'. Most of them are uncountable and include
    no amount, no time, no idea, no doubt, no reason, no need, no evidence, no problem, no way, no point, no use.

    Conversely, in your example:
    a.I have no pens.
    b.I don't have any pens.
    A native speaker is far more likely to say (b) rather than (a).
    (a) sounds stilted.


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