Sometimes, there are phrases that we know to be grammatically correct. But, we might not always know the grammatically correct way to use said phrases. And one of the most common examples is “if any”.
How To Use “If Any” Correctly In A Sentence
To use “If any” correctly, it needs to go after a noun. For example “What advantages, if any, are there to this project?”. It should always go in between commas. Avoid putting “if any” after the noun, or at the end of a sentence.
Wrong Ways To Use “If Any”
There are a couple of ways that people use “if any” in the wrong way.
One way is to put it just before the noun.
“What, if any, advantages, are there to this project”?
By writing like this, we’re relating the “if any” to the “what”. This is not what we want to do.
Another mistake is putting it at the end of a sentence.
“What advantages are there to this project, if any?”
This is also wrong as “if any” is now connected to “project”. We’re asking if there are any advantages to any projects.
When It’s Okay To Break The Rule Around “If Any”
Although usually, “if any”, ought to go just after a noun, there may be times when it’s permissible (if grammatically incorrect) to put it at the end of a sentence.
When you’re talking to someone, and by talking, I mean face to face, they might pause after you ask them a question. This is likely because they expect you to be expecting an answer that they can’t think of.
By adding “if any” when you notice the silence, you’ll let them know that there might not be an answer to your question.
How To Punctuate “If Any”- Remember, It’s A Conditional Clause
But, when we’re writing, whether that’s to be printed, or through chat, knowing the correct punctuation can help us to communicate our ideas better.
The phrase “if any” is what’s called a “conditional clause”. All this means that it explains the condition of other clauses within the sentence. You should only tell me what the benefits of a project are IF there are any benefits to it at all.
With conditional clauses, they ought to go between commas. The commas help to show that whilst it is connected to the sentence, it’s additional information and the sentence wouldn’t fall apart without it.
What Does “If Any” Mean? I Know You Know. But Hear Me Out
When someone says “if any”, most of us probably know what it means. It means “if there are any answers, what are they?”. But the phrase has some implications that most of us don’t even think about.
The first implication is that there might not be any answers. Perhaps there are no benefits to the project.
Secondly, it shows that the speaker is not assuming things. I’m not so pompous that I think my project needs to have benefits just because I made it.
Perhaps the project does have benefits, perhaps it doesn’t. But the use of “if any” opens up both of those options.
“If Any” Might Be Grammatically Correct, But Is It Needed?
However, whilst some people like to use “if any”, there are others who argue that such a phrase might be grammatically correct, but is also unnecessary.
If I just ask “What are the benefits of this project?” and you reply with “there are none”, surely that is just as useful as me asking “What benefits, if any, are there to this project?”
If there is no answer to a question, just let the other person tell you that. There is no need to make clear that there might not be any.
16 Examples Of “If Any”
- “What advantages, if any, are there to this project?”
- What cake, if any, do you like to eat? I’m getting a big party together!”
- “What gin, if any, did pubs do in the 1970s? It seems like the gin craze has taken off really quickly”
- “What pills, if any, are you currently taking? This question is important to help you determine the best method of therapy”
- “How many cakes, if any, did you eat yesterday? I only ate three”
- “What old phones, if any, do you still keep as alarm clocks?”
- “How many apples, if any, can you get out of bucket using just your mouth? Because if you can do more than three, you’re better at apple bobbing than I am”
- “What purpose, if any, does this whole ordeal serve? I just don’t like how horrible this whole situation is”
- “What kings, if any, did you learn about at school? I learnt about Tutankhamun, Henry VIII, and Louis the 16th”
- “How many oranges, if any, are there in a glass of Hulko Orange juice? I’ve heard they don’t put in any actual oranges”
- “How many King Richards, if any, has England had? Was Richard III a real person?”
- “How many ducks, if any, are there in your local duck pond? There ought to be at least 5”
- “How many fish, if any, did you buy yesterday? I understand you went to a fish market”
- “What plants, if any, do you need to water everyday? I don’t want my plants to die”
- “How many clocks, if any, do you keep in your house? I get most people your age just use your phone”
- “What type of pig, if any, is in your typical sausage?”
And now you know everything there is to know about “if any”. You know how to use it, how not to use it, what it means, how to punctuate it, and your mind is open to deciding whether or not it’s needed.
Next time you feel like using “if any”, you now know how to do so correctly. But, if you don’t want to use it, don’t. Getting rid of it will not change the underlying meaning of what you’re asking.
Knowing how to use “if any” is something that many people think is easy, but just as many people get wrong. But, thanks to this article, you won’t be one of the people to get it wrong in the future.