Are There Any vs. Is There Any – Easy Usage Guide (+14 Examples)

The English language can be an incredibly fickle thing. If you get just one word wrong, you’ll have a whole swarm of grammar snobs telling you off for doing it wrong. And one phrase in particular that can catch people off is “Are there any?” or “Is there any?”.

Should I Use “Are There Any” Or “Is There Any”?

“Is there any” is for when you want a singular thing or something that can be divided up but isn’t made of parts (like liquids or mash). “Are there any” is for when you want more than one of something.

Should I Use “Are There Any” Or “Is There Any”?
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Is There Any? For When You Just Want One.

The phrase “Is there any” is to be used when you’re only after one thing. This thing might be a whole thing, or it could be something big, and you want one part of it.

Generally speaking, when a question starts with the word “Is”, we are only talking about one thing. “Is there any chocolate?” usually means that all I am after is one piece.

“Is There Any?” Can Be Used To Talk About People

Sometimes, when we use the phrase “Is there any?”, we’re not talking about objects but people. When we use this phrase, what we’re asking for is just one person.

For example, if I say to a crowd “Is there anyone who is a mechanic?”, all I am after is one mechanic. It doesn’t matter if the whole crowd is made of mechanics because all I require is one.

Using “Is there any?” to talk about people is useful for when you have a task that needs doing, but you don’t want an influx of people trying to help you, all you need is one single person to get the job done.

“Is There Any?” Can Be Used To Talk About Objects

But, when we use “Is there any?” to talk about objects, there are two things we could mean.

We could be asking for something whole. For example, I might say “Is there any cup in here?” All I require is one cup, but I expect a whole cup. Not just a handle.

But, if I say “Is there any mash?” I might not want all of the mash. I may just want some. Yet, all of the mash is considered to be one thing, and I just want a part of the whole. Things like liquid and mash can be divided up, but they’re not made of parts.

7 Examples Of “Is There Any?”

  1. “Is there any chocolate in the cupboard?”
  2. “Is there anyone in here who could help me fix my car?”
  3. “Is there any mash left?”
  4. “Is there any plant with those big green leaves? I like having them in my house”
  5. “Is there any water at all? In the whole city? Because if there isn’t, there is no way we’re winning the next election?”
  6. “Is there anyone in your company who might be able to help me with this issue? I’ve been having with my computer”
  7. “Is there any toilet roll left? I know I should’ve gone shopping earlier, but I didn’t, and now I really really need the toilet”

Are There Any? For When You Want More Than One…. Or Is It?

And now, we come onto the other phrase “Are there any?”.

In English, most of the time, when we use the word “Are” at the beginning of a question, we’re asking about something where there is more than one.

If I ask “Are there any potatoes?”, I am not just wanting one potato. I probably want a spoonful.

However, there are also times when “Are there any?” means “I only want one. But I suppose you have more than one”.

“Are There Any?” Can Be Used To Talk About People

We can use “Are there any?” when we’re talking about people. But doing so implies that we’re after more than one person.

If I go into a crowd, and I ask “Are there any Spanish people here?”, I would expect everyone who is Spanish to raise their hands. I’m not just after one Spanish person to do a task for me, I’m after all the Spanish people I can find.

So don’t use “Are there any?” when talking about people if you’re only after one person.

“Are There Any?” Can Be Used To Talk About Objects

If you want multiple of something, you could use “Are there any?” when talking about objects.

Let’s say instead of mash, you’re having roasted potatoes. Because roast potatoes are made of parts ( a bowl of roasties is made of potatoes), you would say “Are there any roast potatoes?”. And this would make it clear you want more than one.

However, “Are there any?” can sometimes be used for when you just want one, but you suspect there will be more than one. For example, if I go into a furniture shop and ask “Are there any kitchen tables?”, I imagine there are more than one table, but I am only after one.

7 Examples Of “Are There Any?”

  1. “Are there any roast potatoes left? I love roast potatoes!”
  2. “Are there any blue tables in the store right now? I know it’s a weird request, but my husband has some rather unusual tastes”
  3. “Are there any tea bags in the packet? If not, you’ll have to make sure you buy some before my mother in law comes round tomorrow”
  4. “Are there any Mars Bars left? I know I ate a lot of them today, but I hoped that I might still be able to have one or two”
  5. “Are there any phones that last for more than 5 years? I don’t want to keep on replacing my phone all the time”
  6. ” Are there any books about trains in the library? I need it for a school project”
  7. “Are there any apples on the tree or have we eaten all of them?”


And now, hopefully, you have a better understanding of the difference between “Is there any?” and “Are there any?”

“Is there any” is for when…

  • You want just one thing
  • You want one part of a thing that can be divided by isn’t made of parts.

“Are there any” is for when….

  • You want more than one of something
  • You want one, but there are probably more than one

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