Anything or Any thing? What’s the difference?

Anything or any thing, which one is correct? There is some confusion over which word or phrase to use but it doesn’t have to be. It’s not complex like other words in English where the rules are erroneous. Plus, this will be more in the context of writing than speaking, which takes the burden off a little bit.

In most cases, your safest bet will be to always use the word “anything” when writing. As you can see speaking won’t be as obvious as in written form.

Anything versus Any Thing

“Anything” is a pronoun and literally means “a thing of any kind no matter what it is.” “Any thing” refers to a noun, but only in the context of an object or place rather than a person, idea or animal. However, “any” in this way becomes an indefinite adjective. It modifies “thing.”

Object Emphasis

Both “anything” and “any thing” can refer to the emphasis of an object. For example:

We can do anything.

We can do any thing you like.

Anything Is Most Common

However, “any thing” is rarely applicable in singular references to an object. For such a situation, and in most other instances, you would use “anything.” The following examples are common for using “anything:”

You can have anything your heart desires.

Anything left in the trunk will go into the trash.

My dog eats anything, so keep sugary sweets away.

Rules for Any Thing

Using the two-word version of “any thing” allows for an adjective between “any” and “thing.” Also, it gives great emphasis on the singular object of which you’re speaking. However, its most frequent usage almost always refers to plural objects.

We can do any things you like.

Don’t put any THING on the counter.

Mnemonic Device

A quick way to check and see if you should use “anything” or “any thing” is if what you’re referring to requires modification from an adjective or the object is plural. If you can insert an adjective between “any” and “thing” and it still makes sense, then this is the form to use.

I can do anything because I’m free.


She can have any number of things.


The use of “anything” or “any thing” isn’t difficult once you can conceptualize the proper context. Remember, for most cases “anything” is appropriate and “any thing” is best for plural usage.