I haven't got any money/ I haven't got money

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Hese, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. Hese Senior Member

    Hello there,

    I've been wondering for quite some time whether it is possible to drop any in negative sentences:

    Can I say

    - I haven't got money
    - I haven't got children
    - She hasn't got postcards

    Thank you very much
  2. seadew Senior Member

    English, USA
    Interesting! I feel slightly different about each of the three examples
    I haven't got any money (at all, nothing, not a cent)
    I haven't got money (money would be stressed here, meaning, for example: I'm not rich, but I'm fun and interesting)
    I haven't got children/any children seem the same to me
    She hasn't got any postcards = fine (but she hasn't got postcards sounds wrong to me)
    I don't know whether this will help you or confuse you. Hope it helps.
  3. Hese Senior Member

    hm, it confuses me- but what I suppose "any" can be left out when the noun is not countable....

    Let's see:

    I haven't got money/ I don't drink coffee/ I don't drink alcohol - I suppose none of these shocks you...

    I don't have books/ I don't write postcards/ I don't have pens - what do you think of these examples?
  4. seadew Senior Member

    English, USA
    Well, now I'm confused too. It's not as simple as countable, non-countable. Something else is going on, but I'm not sure what.
    The first line, money, coffee, alcohol all work fine for my without the 'any'.
    I don't write postcards (it's a matter of principle with me) sounds fine. On the same grounds (ie this is a rule I have set for myself), but less likely sounding the books/pens examples are at the outler limits of what I can accept without a grammar jolt.
    I taught ESL for 20 years and never have encountered this particular phenomenon. Wish I could be of more help!
  5. johndot Senior Member

    English - England
    The way you phrase a negative sentence sometimes doesn’t alter the meaning, but often it changes it considerably (as seadew has shown in posts #4 and 6). Here are a few of your examples with my interpretations:

    I haven’t got any children = I haven’t any children = I haven’t got children.

    I haven’t any money or I haven’t got any money = I’m poor or I’m broke or I haven’t any cash on me at the moment
    I haven’t got money = I’m not a member of the aristocracy or I’m not a landowner or I’m not a person of independent means.

    She hasn’t got any postcards = so she’s going to the shop to get some
    She hasn’t got postcards = the sales assistant said this shop doesn’t sell postcards.

    I don’t drink any coffee — not said
    I don’t drink coffee — normal.

    I don’t have any books = I don’t own any books
    I don’t have books = this shop doesn’t sell books.

    I don’t write any postcards — not (usually) said
    I don’t write postcards = as a matter of principle I don’t send postcards.

    I don’t have any pens = the shop has sold out of pens
    I don’t have pens = I don’t stock pens.
  6. seadew Senior Member

    English, USA
    Hello again,
    I am still wondering about this and now realize that some/any (in fact turning these negative sentences to positive (and going for or eliminating 'some' also works the same way). The construction is partitive in "I drink some coffee" (but not on a regular basis) but is no longer partitive in "I drink coffee" (as a rule). So the first example is true 'part of the time' and the second always (or never in the negative sentences).
    I get this now, so if I haven't conveyed the idea, do ask for more clarification! Cheers
  7. abenr

    abenr Senior Member

    Scottsdale, AZ, USA
    English, USA
    I don’t drink any coffee — not said

    I don’t drink coffee — normal.
    One can say "I don't drink any coffee,' but only under special circumstances. Here's an example: I don't drink any coffee; it has to be Maxwell House. (Of course this would be clearer as "I don't drink just any coffee: it has to be Maxwell House.")
  8. johndot Senior Member

    English - England
    Yes, that’s right, abenr; normally ‘I don’t drink any coffee’ is not said unless you add other words to give a different meaning (in which case you’re no longer saying ‘I don’t drink any coffee’). Also, it’s not unusual to say ‘I don’t drink any coffee—it has to be X’.
  9. seadew Senior Member

    English, USA
    I agree with johndot, "any" in the sense of "any old", "just any" is another kettle of fish. But I also think I can say "I don't drink any coffee when I'm travelling through several time zones" for example, or with some qualifying explanation or time frame. Gets sort of complex, doesn't it? Language is just so much fun to play around with. (she said proudly ending her sentence with a forbidden preposition!)
  10. abenr

    abenr Senior Member

    Scottsdale, AZ, USA
    English, USA
    Right as right can be.

  11. xebonyx

    xebonyx Senior Member

    Weird. I find "I havent got any money" too wordy or maybe even incorrect English, as far as American English standards go. Anyone else? We normally just say "I dont have any money" or simply "I dont have money".

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