There is <no> <not any> <not a>…

Discussion in 'English Only' started by tomonori, Mar 21, 2010.

  1. tomonori

    tomonori Member

    I got confused that the difference between "There is no" and "There is not any" and "There is not a".

    There is no pen. Correct

    There is not any pens. Correct ?

    There is not a pen. Correct ?
  2. Aidanriley

    Aidanriley Senior Member

    SD, California
    The middle one should use the plural verb (there are not any pens).
  3. andy_westken Senior Member

    With Aidanriley's correction, the phrases are well-formed. But I don't think I would use the first or the third just as they stand. I would, however, use them as part of longer phrases.

    For example, if you asked me whether there were any pens in an empty stationery cupboard, I would probably answer "No, there aren't any (pens there)".

    But if I wanted to emphasise the lack of pens, maybe because you didn't believe my first answer, I might then say "No, there is not a single pen!"

    Or, if we'd been looking elsewhere, "No, there aren't any pens there, either!"

    The "is no pen..." case turns up less often, at least for me. I would normal use the "are no pens". But if if you'd dropped your pen on the floor and were trying to find it. I might check under my desk and then tell you "There is no pen there, either" (or maybe "There isn't a pen there, either".)
  4. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    <<Moderator note: The posts on the issue of the usage of an/any have been moved to a previous thread - the current thread covers the negative forms>>
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  5. Subhajit12

    Subhajit12 Senior Member

    Hi there, what is the difference between there was no, there was not a and there was not any?

    • Yesterday I visited a very undevelopped area in my tour of Africa. I rented a room in a hotel there. The hotel lacked basic facilites. There was no television set/ not a television set/ not any television set in the room.
  6. Florentia52

    Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    English - United States
    Which one do you think is correct in your sentence, Subhajit12?
  7. Subhajit12

    Subhajit12 Senior Member

    I know "There was no" is the correct one. But when we negate plural countable nouns we have two options.

    To negate the sentence "there are some televison sets in The US." We can say either "There are not any/no television sets in The US."

    But To negate the sentence "there is a twlevision set in my room.", is there only one way? Is there another way to say "there is no television in my room."
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  8. DonnyB

    DonnyB Sixties Mod

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Of the other two alternatives, There was not a television set in my room" works although it's a little bit stilted, but I don't think anyone in BE would say "...not any television set".

    I suspect actually that many if most of us would say "My room didn't have a television set". :)
  9. coiffe

    coiffe Senior Member

    American English
    "There's no television set in my room" is how I would say it.
  10. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    English - England
    Not a [noun]”, rather than “no [noun]”, is often used for emphasis or literary effect:

    We drove overnight. Most of the time, there was not a vehicle on the road, apart from ours.

    When he awoke, there was not a sound to be heard, and then the chirping of a songbird filled the cabin.​

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