"a" vs "any"

What is the difference between and any in the following sentenc?

  • Can a bulletproof vest stop a bulltet fired from an AK-47?
  • Can any bulletproof vest stop a bulltet fired from an AK-47?

Does the second one using any mean to say "Does there exist a single bulletproof vest that can stop a bullet fired from an Ak-47"?

 

Suppose I have got 3 bulletproof vests. After shooting bullets into them from an AK-47, none is able to stop those bullets. Then can I say "Hey John, Can any bulletproof vest stop a bulltet fired from an AK-47? What do you think?" Does any in this context mean "Does there exist a single bulletproof vest that can stop a bullet fired from an Ak-47?"
 
 
Original Post
subhajit123 posted:

What is the difference between and any in the following sentenc?

  • Can a bulletproof vest stop a bulltet fired from an AK-47?
  • Can any bulletproof vest stop a bulltet fired from an AK-47?

Does the second one using any mean to say "Does there exist a single bulletproof vest that can stop a bullet fired from an Ak-47"?

 
 

Hi, Subhajit: Your examples here aren't very pleasant, but you are correct that the one with "any" has the meaning "Does there exist a single bulletproof vest that . . . [etc.]?" In a normal context, that is not the desired meaning. We would simply say, "Can a bulletproof vest stop a bullet fired from this type of gun?"

If the sentence with "any" were used, it would receive emphatic stress, and there would be preceding context justifying its use with stress  -- for example: "This (supposedly) bulletproof vest can't do it. Neither can that one. Indeed, I have never come across a bulletproof vest that can. Can ANY vest do it?"

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