I see some examples :

- No cheese

- No errors

- No good

I understand how to use "any", but "no" before a noun is weird (especially "no" before an adjective). Can anyone explain them?

  • Stupid question maybe, but are you familiar with the concept of homonyms? – Mr Lister Jan 30 '13 at 15:12
  • I think this is General Reference - too basic for ELU, but would probably be fine on Learners – FumbleFingers Jan 31 '13 at 15:15

In this context, no is essentially the same as not any. So, there is not any cheese, there are zero errors, and something is not good.

This is meaning #2 in Macmillan.

That said, there's room for interpretation here. Just like NO DIVING can mean "diving is not allowed," NO CHEESE could mean "do not put any cheese in this dish" (which might be something said to a cook, when the diners might be lactose intolerant).


the context isn't totally clear here, but generally in front of a noun (like cheese, errors and sometimes good) 'no' indicates that there is "not any".

ex. No cheese is made from cat's milk. = There is not any type of cheese made from cat's milk.

ex. No errors were found in the document. = There are not any errors (that were found) in the document.

"Good" is slightly different. Good can be a noun in the same way as above. ex. No good can come from playing with guns.

The expression "no good" can also be used as a noun in the following way: ex. She was up to no good. (ie she was misbehaving/ doing something mischievous)

but people do also use no-good as an adjective-- ex. He is no good which basically just means he's bad.

I think this is just a oddity of the word "good" though as I can't think of any other adjectives that are used in this way.


"No" simply indicates an absence of whatever it's qualifying.

No cheese: there is an absence of cheese;
No errors: there is an absence of errors;
No good: there is an absence of good.

Note that good here is not an adjective per se; it's a noun.

  • 1
    I'd class no good as a compound - adjective (This screwdriver is no good = useless; a no-good punk) - or noun (up to no good = mischief) (as Sarah Liz says). No use is an alternative (for useless). The latter is probably a reduced PP (of no use). – Edwin Ashworth Jan 30 '13 at 14:57
  • @edwin See the ODO link. No good = No benefit [noun-2]. – Andrew Leach Jan 30 '13 at 15:01