So, I'm helping a friend of mine who has just started learning English. He wants to say "He has almost nothing to eat in his cupboards" using the negative form. Is "he hasn't almost anything to eat in his cupboards" correct as well? It seems to me that it just doesn't work. Are there any rules about the use of almost in such cases? Thanks in advance

  • It wouldn't be very idiomatic. And I question whether "almost" can legitimately modify "anything" in this context.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 5, 2020 at 14:27
  • 1
    He has hardly anything to eat in his cupboard. This is a matter of "positive / negative polarity". @HotLicks: You can say almost anything given the right context! Apr 5, 2020 at 14:28
  • @FumbleFingers - There are some people who will say almost anything in any context!
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 5, 2020 at 14:50
  • @HotLicks: Is You can't buy hardly anything an example of "emphatic colloquial double negation"? If so, how do we classify can't buy hardly nothin'? Apr 5, 2020 at 15:51
  • Not in the US. Don't know about UK, but I'd be surprised to hear it. In the US, has not doesn't contract when have means 'possess'; only when it's an auxiliary verb, like the perfect He hasn't ever been there. When have means 'possess', Do-Support is required: He doesn't have the virus, but not *He hasn't the virus. Apr 5, 2020 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


Hasn't almost anything sounds wrong in many ways. 1) Hasn't can't be used here because has is denoting possession of something. 2) Almost anything doesn't seem right because you're using it in a negative sense. 3) Even if you don't use the contraction hasn't, it's not right. Because, you can't say "has not anything", it should be "has nothing". But "He has almost nothing to eat in his cupboards" is perfectly fine.


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