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Sometimes I see two variants of following sentence:

  • "there are not any employees" in the department
  • "there is not any employee" in the department

What is the correct sentence?

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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

As long as you are referring to more than one subject, I would go with:

"There are not any employees".

For referring to a single instance, I would go with "there is no"

"there is no employee in department"

If the topic has no plural form (or is rarely used with a plural form), then I would consider "there isn't any":

"There isn't any water" = There is no water

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water is uncountable. –  delete Aug 9 '10 at 12:59
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@Shinto: a/ I never said otherwise in my answer: as a substance, water is a mass noun. b/ you can find water with an 's': "territorial waters". Other examples: forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=195932 –  VonC Aug 9 '10 at 13:41
    
And as a variation, "There are no employees" feels more natural to me than "not any"; but the point is we generally agree on the plural, because most departments would have more than one employee. –  njd Aug 9 '10 at 16:35
    
On its own, the second example doesn't sound right, unless you specify which employee you're talking about, e.g. "there is no employee in this department called John". –  Steve Melnikoff Aug 21 '10 at 14:34
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"There are not any employees" is the correct one.

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I'd use

There are no employees.

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