your paired example sentences are both possible, we don't usually
use any with singular countable nouns in English.
For the singular, we would probably use a different formulation.
aren't any trees along this road.
isn't a single tree along this road.
is a slight difference of emphasis here, which is also implicit
in your own paired example. In the first sentence, we are thinking
of more than one tree and in the second just one.
to summarise, the difference in use is that we employ an indefinite
article an/a or not a/notan with singular
countable nouns and any/no with plural countable nouns and
with uncountable nouns. Uncountable nouns, meaning 'an amount of',
normally have no plural. They are thus used with singularverbs, BUT with any/no rather than a/an/not a/not
an. Compare the following:
you like an egg for breakfast? (One egg = singular countable
thanks. I don't want any eggs today. (More than one
egg = plural countable noun)
making scrambled egg for Joe. Won't you have any scrambled
egg? (Scrambled egg = uncountable noun)
the principal difference in usage between some and any.
We tend to use any in questions and with negatives, some
in affirmative sentences:
there any information (uncountable) about any survivors
(countable) from the plane crash?
I'm sorry there's no information available yet. (OR: …
there isn't any…BUT …no…preferred because it has stronger
soon as we have some, we'll let you know.
= it doesn't matter who or which
is one instance of usage where any is quite common with singular
countable nouns and that is when it means 'it doesn't matter who
or which'. In speech, the word any itself carries strong
stress. Study the following:
good dictionary will give you examples of use as well as definitions
British daily newspaper will give you some information on the
weather in the world's capital cities.
child under the age of ten can enter the egg-and-spoon race.
any dentist and he will tell you that you should go for
a check-up at least once a year.
that there is no significant difference in use between -one
and -body, except perhaps that -one is more commonly
used. Note also that no one is the only one that is written
as two separate words.
the clue as to why they are all used with singular verbs lies with
-one, meaning one person, or one thing or not
onething or not one person. Compare the following:
someone at the door who wants to interview you.
are some people at the door who want to interview you.
sorry, I'm busy right now. Isn't there anyone else who
can do it? What about Fred?
relationships last for a long time but nothing is for ever.