Hello, I have a question regarding usage of any. My question is, can I omit any in cases like the following? I have a grammar book named 'Practical English Usage' that says "With an uncountable or plural noun, 'any' usually suggests the idea of an indefinite but limited amount or number. When there is no idea of a limited quantity or number, we do not usually use 'any'. And It also says when our Interest is in knowing the the existense of something not knowing its amount or its number, we don't use 'any'. So what are the differences between my following sentences? Can I omit any?

1- Do you have any children/children? (can I omit 'any' here?"

2- I don't have any cars/cars. I go to college by bus.

3- Yesterday, I did not buy any flowers/flowers from the market.

 

 

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Subha,

These are good questions.  I see by your examples that you have already grasped the fact that "any" tends to be used mostly in questions or negative statements.  It can also be used in conditionals.

1- Do you have any children/children? (can I omit 'any' here?"

Both are acceptable, but I recommend using "any".  Without it, it is possible for the other to respond:

1a: No, I don't have "children".  I have one child.

2- I don't have any cars/cars. I go to college by bus.

It would be more natural in this context to say:

2a: I don't have a car.  I go to college by bus.

3- Yesterday, I did not buy any flowers/flowers from the market.

As with (1), I find the presumably intended meaning to be more precise with "any".  Without it, you can appear to be evading the question:

3a: I did not buy flowers from the market.  I bought eggs.
3b: I did not buy flowers from the market.  I bought them from a street vendor.

I hope this was helpful.  Thank you, by the way, for citing your source.

DocV

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