one, a & any

1. I can't hear a word!

2. I can't hear one word!

3. I can't hear any word!

4. I can't hear any words!

I want to express the idea that I can hear nothing(I can't hear anything.). I know 1 is correct, but what about 2? As to 3 and 4, which form should I use when I use "any" with a countable noun?

Thanks!

Original Post

Hello, Ruifeng,

If the idea you want to express is that you can hear nothing, then you should use (1).

(2) can be used if you mean to say that there is one particular word you can't hear, though you can hear the rest of the speech. It would be equivalent to saying: There is one word I can't hear.

"any" can be used both with singular and plural nouns but in this case I find (3) to be much better than (4).

Ruifeng,

Are you trying to answer a workbook or test question, as the multiple choice selection that you are quizzing us with suggests, or are you trying to learn how native speakers of English speak the language?

I have been in situations where there was either loud ambient noise or a bad telephone connection and I had occasion to say either:

1': I can't hear a word you're saying.

or

1'': I can't understand a word you're saying.

If you mean to say that you can't hear anything at all, say:

5: I can't hear anything.

It's that simple.  By themselves, none of your examples make any sense at all.

DocV

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