Here’s a question that’s come up a couple of times, I’ll post the answer here before I forget it again … When can you use any in an affirmative sentence? You’ve probably learned only to use any in questions and negatives:
Do you want any books from the library?
I don’t have any ideas for my paper.
But what about in affirmative sentences? (Affirmative is the opposite of negative, so I mean a normal sentence that is not a question, a command, or a negative.)
And here’s the answer: In affirmatives, any is a quantifier meaning “one or more, no matter which” – eg:
Any of those answers will do.
Any household detergent works.
I’ll throw away any pasta left at the end
Any usually takes a singular count or non-count noun; if you need a plural count noun, use “any of those computers.” Since any means a single member of a group, *any computers is wrong.
For another explanation, the COBUILD English Grammar says:
Any is used before plural nouns and noncount nouns when you are referring to a quantity of something which may or may not exist. Eg. The patients know their rights like any other consumers. Check if you’re in any doubt. You can stop at any time you like. Any is used with singular count nouns to talk about someone or something of a particular type when you do not want to be specific. E.g: Any big container will do. Cars can be rented at almost any US airport.
Notice that this is consistent with the use of any in questions and negatives: if there isn’t any water, then the water doesn’t exist, and there’s no need to be specific!
Some more examples from the Corpus of Contemporary American English:
- I’ll answer any questions the committee has.
- Check the wiring for any signs of damage.
- New Orleans police move out to challenge any children out late.