Anything and Any Thing

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
What is the difference between anything and any thing?

The pronoun anything means a thing of any kind. (Of note, the word anything is far more common than any thing.)

The two-word version (any thing) is used:
  • When emphasizing you are referring to an object (as opposed to a person, animal, or idea). For example:
    • You can hide the ball inside any thing. You cannot give it to a person.
  • When there is another adjective between any and thing. For example:
    • Tell me any little thing you like.
  • When using things. For example:
    • Any things left unattended will be removed.

Anything and Any Thing

There is often confusion over anything and any thing.


Anything (one word) is a pronoun that means a thing of any kind (i.e., a thing, no matter what it is).

  • Positive anything is better than negative nothing. (Elbert Hubbard)
  • When the sun is shining, I can do anything; no mountain is too high. (Wilma Rudolph)
  • A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. (Albert Einstein)

Any Thing

The two-word version (any thing) is used to emphasize that you are referring to any object, as opposed to any person, animal, or idea.

  • If any thing is sacred, the human body is sacred. (Walt Whitman)
  • (Any thing (two words) can often be substituted with any one thing.)
  • You may not take pictures of people, but you can take a picture of any thing.
In the term any thing, any is an indefinite adjective modifying the noun thing. If there are any other adjectives modifying thing, then you need any thing as opposed to anything.

  • Every movie is like a little company, and any little thing can ruin it. (Ryan Kavanaugh)
There is no such word as anythings. Therefore, if things is plural, then you need any things.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
Glossary of easily confused words Glossary of common errors Glossary of grammatical terms What are adjectives? What are indefinite adjectives?