Does one say, "If any of my grandchildren does not attain the age of eighteen..."

or does one say, "If any of my grandchildren do not attain the age of eighteen..."

The second phrase seems to imply that more than on grandchild must not attain the age of eighteen before the contingency comes into play. Whereas, the first implies that if only one grandchild does not attain the age of eighteen, then the contingency is "activated".

Does anyone have "any" thoughts on this subject?

This question is not a duplicate of the question "Should the noun after "any" be singular or plural?". That question is about whether a noun that is positioned immediately after any should be singular or plural: e.g. "any grandchild" vs. "any grandchildren". This question is about whether a verb used with the structure "any of [plural noun]" should be singular or plural.

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    Why not position the negative in the subject and forget about the any? I.e, If none of my grandchildren attains the age of eighteen..." – John Lawler Oct 16 '18 at 16:07
  • @jimm101: I think that question is really asking about a separate topic. I have edited its title to make it more specific: that question seems to be asking "Should the noun after “any” be singular or plural?", while this question is asking about which verb to use in the "any of (plural noun)" construction. – herisson Oct 17 '18 at 1:22

'Any' can refer to one grandchild, some of the grandchildren or to all of them. The use of a plural verb does not imply that a plural situation is envisaged or required.

The general meaning of any, according to Michael Swan (Practical English Usage, Oxford University Press, 1995) is:

Any is a determiner. It generally suggests an indefinite amount or number, and is used when it is not important to say how much/ how many we are thinking of. Because of its "open," non-specific meaning, any is often used in questions and negative clauses and in other cases where there is an idea of doubt or negation.

Any: Singular and plural nouns

If you said "If any of the pupils of this class are caught cheating, they will be beaten". it would not avail a single pupil thus caught to say "But I am the only one caught, therefore I should not be beaten".

I should emphasise that people deciding the wording of a legal document such as a will or deed of trust, etc, would be sensible to consult a lawyer experienced in such matters, rather than an English language web forum.

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When "any" is used as a pronoun it generally considered to be plural, while when used as a determiner it's more likely to be considered singular. But in many cases it depends on the specific context.

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Are any of the cookies left? Is any of the cake left? None of the cookies are left. None of the cake is left. (None means not any.)

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