Anything vs. Nothing

'Nothing' and 'anything' are two indefinite pronouns that have similar meanings. But they are used differently in a sentence. Let's check these two out!

What Is Their Main Difference?

'Anything' and 'nothing' are two examples of indefinite pronouns that have similar meanings. However, they cannot be used interchangeably.

  1. 'Anything' is NOT a negative maker, but 'Nothing' is.
  2. 'Nothing' is not normally used in questions.
  3. Use 'Anything' in questions and negative sentences.
  4. 'Anything' refers to the presence of something (it doesn't matter what); 'Nothing' refers to the absence of something.

Anything

We use 'anything' to refer to an open, unlimited set of things that we do not mind what that thing is. It can be a thing either seen or unseen. We use 'anything' with a singular verb.

'Anything' is usually used in questions and negative sentences.

Can I do anything to help?

You can do anything you want.

We don't have anything to eat. Let's go out.

Negative Sense

We use anything with sentences that have a negative sense, but not necessarily a negative verb.

He said hardly anything.

We often use anything after 'if'.

If anything happens to us, take care of our child.

Nothing

Remember that 'anything' referred to the presence of something (it doesn't matter what), it can be seen or unseen.
On the other hand, 'nothing' refers to the absence of something, it means there is not a thing. It can also be seen or unseen too.

He ate nothing for dinner.

Double Negation

'Nothing' has a negative meaning by itself, therefore it is mostly used in affirmative sentences. If we use 'nothing' in a negative sentence (with negative verbs) we have made the 'double negation' mistake.

Nothing can be done here. (NOT nothing cannot be done here.)

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