What are the differences between the two sentences below:

There is no rule.

There isn't rule.

  • The second says that whatever authority is supposed to be ruling isn't.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 27, 2016 at 2:16
  • This is grammar, not usage. There is no rule=There isn't a rule. "there isn't rule" is not grammatical. /There isn't rule of law/ is grammatical.
    – Lambie
    Jul 18, 2016 at 15:02

5 Answers 5


The second should be

There isn't a rule.

Rules are countable, so the singular "rule" needs an article or counter of some sort. In the first sentence, "no" counts the number of rules present. In the second "is not" doesn't count, so adding "a" is appropriate.

EDIT: beyond that correction, the two sentences have the same basic meaning. "There is no rule" is more emphatic, but both can be quite strong depending on how they are spoken.

  • two sentence exactly share the same meaning?
    – lovespring
    Jan 20, 2011 at 17:18
  • 1
    Also of note: "is no" and "are zero" are generally equivalent but use different pluralities.
    – splicer
    Jan 20, 2011 at 17:21
  • @lovespring: yes
    – splicer
    Jan 20, 2011 at 17:23
  • 2
    In some contexts, the first sentence could be interpreted as "this is anarchy".
    – splicer
    Jan 20, 2011 at 17:30
  • @splicer - would this not be 'there is no rule of law'? I don't think I've seen 'there is no rule' to mean anarchy.
    – dave
    Jan 21, 2011 at 0:31

The second sentence isn't valid. "Isn't" is a contraction of "is not". You could say the following:

There isn't a rule.


Your question: Are there any differences of the two sentences below:

  1. There is no rule.
  2. There isn't rule.

Answer: Indeed, there are.

Sentence 2. uses not in place of the no in sentence 1. More seriously, sentence 1. means there are no rules in place. Here, no is adjective modifying rule. Hence, no rule = absence of rules/a rule. Sentence 2., as it stands, could certainly be made sense of, but it is ungrammatical. Here, not is an adverb that implies the negative and placing a noun such as rule right after it does not work. Others have suggested:

There isn't a rule.

I would also like to add this option:

There isn't any rule.

In my opinion, this is the more commonly used form. Or, even better,

There aren't any rules.

Note that not can also be used in place of an adverbial clause of negation:

  • Is there any rule against this?
  • There is no rule/There isn't/No, there isn't/There isn't any [rule]

As Jimi says, the second can be made sense of, and it's even (IMPSO) grammatical. To wit:

There's isn't rule [of law].

Not something I'd say, but I think it's correct.


Simply because it is grammatically wrong. There isn't = There is NOT There is no = There is NO

So the mistake here is thinking that "isn't " means= "is no" There is no rule that says....

There isn't a rule that says.... There is not a rule that says....

  • Please note that you have consistently put the apostrophe between the s and the n (is'nt) rather than between the n and the t (isn't). Since the apostrophe is generally understood to memorialize the lost o, not the lost letter space, isn't seems the preferable form.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jun 27, 2016 at 1:02
  • That is just a typo, I am using a Japanese keyboard that I am not really used to :)
    – Dayo
    Jun 27, 2016 at 2:12
  • 1
    The second is not grammatically incorrect. "There isn't rule" means that "rule" does not exist. But "rule" is different from "a rule" -- "rule", in that context, means, eg, the rule of a monarch or perhaps the rule of law, not a specific rule in a rule book.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 27, 2016 at 2:18

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