Difference Between Nothing and Anything

Main Difference – Nothing vs Anything

Nothing and anything are two indefinite pronouns that have similar meanings. Anything refers to the presence of any kind of thing whereas nothing refers to the absence of anything. However, the main difference between nothing and anything is that nothing is often used with positive verbs whereas anything is used in negative sentences or questions. Both nothing and anything can be used in a sentence to express the same thing.

This article presents,

1. What Does Nothing Mean – Grammar, Meaning and Usage with Examples

2. What Does Anything Mean – Grammar, Meaning and Usage with Examples

3. Difference Between Nothing and Anything – Comparison of Meaning and Usage 

Difference Between Nothing and Anything - Nothing vs Anything Comparison Summary

What Does Nothing Mean

Nothing is an indefinite pronoun meaning not anything or no single thing. It refers to the absence of something; thus, it has a negative sense. However, it is often used in affirmative sentences.

He knows nothing.

They said nothing about your promotion.

There was nothing to eat in the fridge.

There is nothing wrong with your health.

The mechanics found nothing wrong with the machine.             

Your grades have nothing to do with your family.

It is important to know that using nothing should not be used in a negative sentence. Doing so will result in a double negative.

Difference Between Nothing and Anything

He wrote nothing.

What Does Anything Mean

Anything is also an indefinite pronoun which refers to any kind of thing, no matter what. This pronoun is usually used in negative sentences or questions.

Do you know anything about this?

Is there anything else you want to add to your answer?

He didn’t tell me anything about his family.

Have you found anything about the robbery?

No one said anything about the murder.

He inquired whether there was anything he could do for us.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that nothing and anything can be used to express the same meaning. This can be done by using positive and negative sentence structures.

I know nothing about the theft. =  I don’t know anything about the theft.

He ate nothing. = He didn’t eat anything.

Thus,

Nothing = Negative verb + Anything

In addition, nothing and anything can be easily replaced in a question. There is no need to change the other components of the sentence.

Have you found anything? → Have you found nothing?

Main Difference - Nothing vs Anything

Did you write anything?

Difference Between Nothing and Anything

Meaning

Nothing means not a single thing.

Anything means any kind of thing.

Absence vs Presence

Nothing indicates absence or non-existence.

Anything indicates the presence of something.

Usage

Nothing is often used in affirmative sentences.

Anything is often used in negative sentences.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.