Remembering the difference between “any thing” and “anything” is easy when you know a few tricks to help. These simple hacks will have you feeling confident about using these words in your speech and writing.
The key difference between “anything” and “any thing” is the meaning of each of these terms. If you keep that in mind, you’ll know which is right for your situation.
When you use “anything,” you’re talking about any kind of thing. You don’t have a specific thing in mind. By its nature, this pronoun is a general term. These examples will help:
- I don’t know anything about fixing cars.
- He didn’t order anything at the restaurant.
- My mom said I could do anything I wanted on Saturday.
- Pick anything you want for dinner tonight.
- Do you want anything for your birthday this year?
- Can I do anything to help?
Even though you’re using the catch-all term of “thing,” when you use “any thing” as two words, you’re actually talking about something specific. You are talking about one thing or a group of things out of everything else around them. This happens often when the “things” are plural. This is a rare situation, but you’ll see it in the examples below:
- The teacher said I could have a sticker, a button, or any thing I wanted in the prize jar.
- A noun is any person, any place, or any thing you see in the world.
- After you leave, we will throw away trash or any things left in the classroom.
- Are there any things you need from the store?
- Can you find any animals or any things that are blue?
- Are there any things you recognize about this?
If you want to use an adjective to describe the thing you’re talking about, you should use “any thing.” You’re putting a word in between “any” and “thing,” so this makes sense. Consider these examples:
- Since it’s not a fancy party, my friend said to just wear any old thing.
- Jim is in a bad mood and gets upset about any little thing these days.
- At this point, I’m so hungry I may just eat any random thing I see.
- Did you do any exciting things over the weekend?
- I don’t see any weird things around here.
- It wasn’t any big thing for me to help.
If you aren’t certain whether to use “anything” or “any thing,” there’s a hack to help you. In the vast majority of situations, “anything” is going to be the correct choice. You may make a mistake once or twice this way, but you’ll be right most of the time.
Next time you find yourself wondering, “Is anything one word or two?,” you’ll know it’s actually both. The key is remembering which one is correct for your situation so you can save yourself an embarrassing grammar mistake.