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!

"Anything" vs. "Nothing" in English Grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

While both 'anything' and 'nothing' are indefinite pronouns used to describe absence or lack of something, 'anything' is used to refer to a general set without any restrictions or limitations, while 'nothing' refers to the absence or lack of something specific.

Anything

'Anything' refers to an open, unlimited set of things that can be either seen or unseen. It is used to indicate that there is no specific restriction or limitation on what that thing might be. 'Anything' is typically used in questions and negative sentences, and takes a singular verb.

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 can use anything in sentences that have a negative sense, but not necessarily a negative verb.

He hardly said anything.

Nothing

'Nothing' refers to the absence of anything, or to the lack of something that was expected or desired. It is often used in situations where there is a specific absence or lack of something. For example:

I have nothing to wear to the party.

He said nothing when I asked him the question.

Double Negation

'Nothing' has a negative meaning. Therefore, it is used in affirmative sentences. If we use 'nothing' with negative verbs, we have made a 'double negation' error.

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

Differences

'Anything' is a pronoun that refers to an open, unlimited set of things, without any specific restrictions or limitations, and can be used in both positive and negative sentences. It is also commonly used in questions.
On the other hand, 'nothing' is a pronoun that refers to the absence of something and is often used as a negative maker, which means it is only used with an affirmative verb. Furthermore, it is not typically used in questions.

I don't see anything wrong with the plan.

I see nothing wrong with the plan.

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