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If someone asks you, say, "Is there a dollar store around here?" and you're pretty sure there aren't any dollar stores in the area, what would be a grammatically correct (and gentle-sounding) way to tell the person "No"?

  1. I’m afraid not.
  2. I'm afraid there is none.
  3. I don’t think there is one.
  4. I don't think there aren't any.

Which one is correct/best? (I get confused about none/not one/not any, etc.)

Thank you in advance for any advice.

  • All of these are correct, but show differing levels of certainty. 1 and 2 conclude definitely that there are none, while 3 and 4 show a degree of uncertainty as to whether there are any or not. – Karlomanio Feb 28 at 15:21
  • What's wrong with "Sorry. No there isn't"? – TrevorD Feb 28 at 19:33
  • Thank you both for your responses. Karlomanio, thank you for pointing out the difference (in the degree of certainty) between "I'm afraid" and "I don't think". – Richard Mar 4 at 8:16
  • 1 and 3 are correct, with 3 showing hedging, showing quite correctly that you're only 75% say sure. 2, while being grammatical, is best avoided at least in the UK, where it would sound peculiar. 2', I'm afraid there are none, would sound much more natural. 4 is a tangled error. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 28 at 13:39
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Options 1 & 3 are acceptable. 2 & 4 are grammatically incorrect. 3 might be better if you literally are not afraid. As you imply, “no” is clearly the most succinct. But you could try: “There are no dollar stores in the area, but Google maps will likely give you the nearest one.” 😏

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    What do you think is wrong with 2? – Phil Sweet Feb 28 at 11:17
  • Actually, that is a tricky question, now that I think twice about it. “There is none” is singular. “There are none” is plural. “None” can be singular or plural, depending on context. While his (her) question (“Is there a dollar store around here?”) is a singular question, the follow up implied thought process (“There aren’t any dollar stores.”) suggests I would have answered in the plural - it would feel less awkward to me. – Pegasus Feb 28 at 11:34
  • Thank you Phil Sweet and Pegasus for your input. Pegasus, so you think the answer has to be (or is less awkward if it's) in singular, since the question is singular ("Is there a...")? "I don't think there are none." is also acceptable? And yes, in reality, I'd take you advice and mention Google maps ^^ (P.S. I'm sorry for my belated response--I caught a cold after posting my question..) – Richard Mar 4 at 8:23
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    Now I see Option 4 is double negative. Is it correct if I say: "I don’t think there are any." or "I’m afraid there aren’t any."? – Richard Mar 5 at 2:28
  • @Richard Either of those, Richard. "I don't think there are any" is, perhaps, slightly more common (at least in the UK). Other people would have to tell you if that's the case in the US, Canada, Australia or anywhere else where they use dollars. – BoldBen Mar 30 at 11:20

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