Thursday, February 08, 2007

Today's English lesson

From the American Heritage Book of English Usage:

Any, Get Your Gun

any as a pronoun. When used as a pronoun, any can take either a singular or plural verb depending on how it is construed: Any of these books is suitable (that is, any one). But are any (that is, some) of them available?

of any. The construction of any is often used in informal contexts to mean “of all,” as in He is the best known of any living playwright. Although this construction has been around for centuries, you may want to use of all with a plural noun for formal writing.

any as an adverb. Any is also used as an adverb to mean “at all” before a comparative adjective or adverb in questions and negative sentences: Is she any better? Is he doing any better? He is not any friendlier than before. This usage is entirely acceptable. The related use of any to modify a verb is also acceptable but usually considered informal: It didn’t hurt any. If the child cries any, give her the bottle.

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