I was wondering if it was alright to use the word ‘any’ with singular nouns that are countable in a question.
What is the difference between ‘can’ and ‘could’ in this question below?
Q1: Can you hang out the clothes to dry, please?
Q2: Could you hang out the clothes to dry, please?
I would be grateful for any help that I can get.
2 September, 2011 at 11:26
Total posts: 3
Reply To: singular and the word ‘any’
I think, the fact that you are asking the question, means you have a feeling that the Q1 is not quite right
You really shouldn’t use ‘any’ with singular nouns that are countable in a question. So it can either be: Are there any cars on the road? or
Is there a car on the road?
The difference between can and could is very little when we use the words for a polite request in the real world. As a native I often teach them as more or less the same but I tell my students that could is a little more polite and probably a little better in formal situations.
If you went to a restaurant and asked "could I have a menu?" or "can I have a menu?" they would both be fine and the waiter would think you were polite.