How to say Any in Italian Posted by Serena on Mar 4, 2016 in Grammar
We recently received this request from one of our readers: “Trovo il vostro blog molto utile. Ho tanta difficoltà con la parola inglese ‘any’. Potete scrivere un blog su come si dice ‘any’ in italiano? Grazie mille!”
In fact, the use of the indefinite adjective ‘any’ is a very complicated subject both in Italian and in English. If you need proof that English speakers have problems with the word any just listen to this!
Below, I’ll explain how to translate the most common uses of the English word ‘any’ into Italian with some simple examples:
1. Any: used in questions with uncountable nouns. Uncountable or mass nouns do not typically refer to things that can be counted and do not regularly have a plural form. Examples include: rain, flour, earth, wine, or wood. Uncountable nouns can’t be preceded by a or an. Many abstract nouns are typically uncountable, e.g. happiness, truth, darkness, humour.
Have you got any salt? = Hai un po’ di sale?
Did you buy any shampoo? = Hai comprato dello shampoo?
Is there any milk in the fridge? = C’è del latte in frigo?
Does Francesca know any French? = Francesca sa un po’ di Francese?
Have we got any money? = Abbiamo dei soldi?
N.B. with uncountable nouns we use la preposizione articolata ‘del’ (di + il), which changes its ending according to the rules in this post: Preposizioni Articolate
2. Any: used in questions with countable nouns. Countable or count nouns are those that refer to something that can be counted. They have both singular and plural forms (e.g. cat/cats; woman/women; country/countries). In the singular, they can be preceded by a or an. Most nouns come into this category.
Have you got any bananas? = Hai delle banane?
Did you buy any tins of cat food? = Hai comprato qualche scatoletta di cibo per gatti?
Are there any figs on the tree? = C’è qualche fico sull’albero?
Have you read any books by Camilleri? = Hai letto qualche libro di Camilleri?
Have we got any chocolate biscuits? = Abbiamo dei biscotti al cioccolato?
N.B. the adjective qualche is only used in the singular form, e.g. qualche scatoletta, qualche fico, qualche libro. See this post: Qualche
3. Any: used in negative sentences.
I haven’t got any salt = Non ho sale per niente
There aren’t any figs on the tree this year = Non c’è nessun fico sull’albero quest’anno
I haven’t got any new ideas = non ho nessuna idea nuova
We haven’t got any money = Non abbiamo soldi per niente
He finished the job without any difficulty = Ha finito il lavoro senza nessuna difficoltà
N.B. With uncountable nouns we use the expression per niente (at all).
Technically, the adjective alcun, alcuno, alcuna should be used in negative phrases, e.g. Non c’è alcun fico sull’albero quest’anno However it’s far more common to use nessun, nessuno, nessuna, even though it creates a double negative, e.g. Non c’è nessun fico sull’albero quest’anno
4. Any: used in statements with the meaning of ‘no matter which’.
You can catch any of these buses to get to the railway station = Per andare alla stazione può prendere qualunque di questi autobus
Any colour would be better than this one = Qualsiasi colore sarebbe meglio di questo
You can call me at any time of the day = Puoi chiamarmi a qualsiasi ora del giorno
Any reply is better than none = Qualunque risposta è meglio di nessuna
N.B. qualunque and qualsiasi don’t change gender or number.
In this article I’ve only scratched the surface of the innumerable uses of ‘any’. Spero che non abbiate avuto nessuna difficoltà. A presto!
P.S. Questions such as the one that gave rise to this article are really useful to us as they help us identify areas of difficulty for students of Italian. Please let us know if there is an aspect of the Italian language or culture that you’d like us to write about by leaving a comment.
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