I am confused about the different usages of the word (any* depending on the particular circumstance, and would appreciate some clarification. For instance, if I make the statement

  1. I have more chocolate than any of you.

I would be implying that I have more chocolate than each and every one of you.

However, if I were to instead ask

  1. Is there any of you with more chocolate than me?

I would be asking if even one of you has more chocolate than me.

Is it just the fact that I have phrased it as a question which makes the connotation different? Put differently, is there a systematic way to distinguish between the even one vs every one usage of any?

  • Could you explain what you don't understand about the meanings here ...? Dec 29, 2020 at 20:38
  • I guess the dictionary meaning, "some" or "the smallest amount of" does not seem to correspond to any used in 1. above, which implies each, or every one..It is as if any is being used for both either one of you or every one of you...
    – ChinG
    Dec 29, 2020 at 21:16
  • "Either" is only applicable to two people or things. 'Any' can mean 'one of or each of' more than two. Dec 29, 2020 at 21:18
  • 1
    Ah this is exactly my dilemma- one of is very different from each of. "One of" requires only one entity to satisfy a condition, whereas each of requires all. Is the meaning to be inferred from the context?
    – ChinG
    Dec 29, 2020 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


The first thing to know about any is that it's a Negative Polarity Item. That means it's got weird grammar and semantics, and is part of a lot of idioms, so one can't make assumptions about what it means. Negation is extremely complex.

The second thing to know about any is that it's a Quantifier, and works like other quantifiers in some ways. It doesn't do Q-Float, like each or all do:

  • Each/All of the boys passed = The boys each/all passed.
  • Did all of the boys pass? = Did the boys all pass?
  • Did any of the boys pass?, but not *Did the boys any pass?

And it alternates with some, and -- to the extent it has any meaning, which is not very much -- any has the same meaning as some, which is also a quantifier, but is not a negative polarity item and therefore can occur anywhere:

  • I saw some people coming this way, but not *I saw any people coming this way.
  • He insisted I drink some wine, but not *He insisted I drink any wine.

even when any would be allowed, as in a question:

  • Have you had something to eat yet? ~ Have you had anything to eat yet?

There is no difference between these two questions, although some speakers and addressees may have their own conventions for using them -- and any associated intonations.

As for the examples in the question:

  • I have more chocolate than any of you.

is a use of any in the negative context of the baseline for a comparative construction (identified by than, which occurs only in comparatives, and therefore marks negation).

The second example is ungrammatical, as noted. Corrected, it would be

  • Are there any of you with more chocolate than me?

which is a use of any in the negative environment of a question, like the some/any example above.

As soon as you notice that negatives keep popping up in example sentences, your first thought should be that there's an NPI involved.

  • Great answer!! I will be sure to read it in detail.
    – ChinG
    Dec 30, 2020 at 14:08

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