Difference Wiki

Nothing vs. Anything: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on November 14, 2023
"Nothing" means the absence of anything; "Anything" can mean any one thing or none at all.

Key Differences

"Nothing" specifically denotes the complete absence or lack of something. "Anything" is more versatile and can refer to any possible thing, without specificity or to no thing at all. For instance, if someone says they ate "nothing" for breakfast, it implies they didn't eat. If they say they could eat "anything," it suggests they're open to any food suggestion.
"Nothing" often emphasizes a void or a zero state. When used in the negative, such as "I have nothing," it indicates a lack. On the other hand, "Anything" in the negative, like "I don't have anything," can serve a similar purpose but with a nuance. It leans more towards the idea of any single thing within a set or range.
"Nothing" is an indefinite pronoun that represents the concept of emptiness or null. In contrast, "Anything" encompasses any possible object, thing, or item, giving it a broader scope. If someone asserts that "nothing" is in the box, it's empty. If someone says you can take "anything" from the box, you're free to choose any item inside.
When speaking of possibilities or potential, "Nothing" typically limits or negates them. For example, "Nothing can stop me" suggests an unstoppable determination. "Anything" in a similar context, like "Anything is possible," denotes limitless potential or opportunity.
Both "Nothing" and "Anything" are used in everyday language to convey generalities without getting into specifics. However, "Nothing" tends to close doors while "Anything" tends to open them. If a person states, "Nothing interests me here," they've dismissed everything. But saying "I'd do anything to help" offers an unlimited range of actions they're willing to take.

Comparison Chart


Absence of anything.
Any one thing or none at all.


Specific to emptiness or null.
Broad, encompassing any possible thing.

Usage in Negative Statements

Emphasizes a void (I have nothing).
Nuanced towards any single thing (I don't have anything).

Context of Possibility

Typically limits (Nothing can stop me).
Denotes limitless potential (Anything is possible).

General Connotation

Closes doors, negates.
Opens doors, offers options.

Nothing and Anything Definitions


Insignificant; of no importance or relevance.
It's nothing to worry about.


Used to refer to a thing, no matter what.
Anything you do has consequences.


A complete absence or lack.
There's nothing in the fridge.


In any degree; in any way.
I'm not feeling anything at the moment.


No part; no specific thing.
Nothing about the situation seemed out of place.


No matter how great or small in amount.
I'd pay anything to see that concert.


Something that has no existence.


Used in questions to express doubt or surprise.
Did you see anything unusual?


Something that has no quantitative value; zero
A score of two to nothing.


To any degree or extent; at all
They aren't anything like last year's team.


One that has no substance or importance; a nonentity
"A nothing is a dreadful thing to hold onto" (Edna O'Brien).


Something or someone of importance
"You had to be something to start with, and Jeremy never was anything" (Anne Tyler).


Insignificant or worthless
"the utterly nothing role of a wealthy suitor" (Bosley Crowther).


Any object, act, state, event, or fact whatever; a thing of any kind; something or other.
I would not do it for anything.


In no way or degree; not at all
She looks nothing like her sister.


(with “as” or “like”) Expressing an indefinite comparison.


Not any thing; no thing.


Someone or something of importance.


An absence of anything, including empty space, brightness, darkness, matter, or a vacuum.


In any way, any extent or any degree.
That isn't anything like a car.
She's not anything like as strong as me.


Something trifling, or of no consequence or importance.
- What happened to your face?
- It's nothing.


Any object, act, state, event, or fact whatever; thing of any kind; something or other; aught; as, I would not do it for anything.
Did you ever know of anything so unlucky?
They do not know that anything is amiss with them.


A trivial remark especially in the term sweet nothings.


Expressing an indefinite comparison; - with as or like.
I fear your girl will grow as proud as anything.


A nobody insignificant person.


In any measure; anywise; at all.
Mine old good will and hearty affection towards you is not . . . anything at all quailed.


(archaic) Not at all; in no way.


A thing of any kind;
Do you have anything to declare?


Not anything; no thing (in the widest sense of the word thing); - opposed to anything and something.
Yet had his aspect nothing of severe.


Any one thing without specificity.
You can choose anything from the menu.


Nonexistence; nonentity; absence of being; nihility; nothingness.


A thing of no account, value, or note; something irrelevant and impertinent; something of comparative unimportance; utter insignificance; a trifle.
Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought.
'T is nothing, says the fool; but, says the friend,This nothing, sir, will bring you to your end.


A cipher; naught.


In no degree; not at all; in no wise.
Adam, with such counsel nothing swayed.
The influence of reason in producing our passions is nothing near so extensive as is commonly believed.


A quantity of no importance;
It looked like nothing I had ever seen before
Reduced to nil all the work we had done
We racked up a pathetic goose egg
It was all for naught
I didn't hear zilch about it


A nonexistent thing


In no way; to no degree;
He looks nothing like his father


Zero; no amount or number.
I earned nothing from that venture.


Nonexistent or void.
From nothing, the universe was born.


Can "Nothing" and "Anything" be used interchangeably?

No, "Nothing" indicates a lack, while "Anything" can refer to any single thing or no thing.

Can "Anything" always mean the same as "Something"?

No, "Something" is more specific, while "Anything" is broader.

Is "I don't have nothing" a double negative?

Yes, it's a double negative, suggesting "I have something."

When should I use "Nothing at all"?

It's used for emphasis to stress the absence of anything.

Does "Anything" always denote a positive connotation?

No, it's neutral. Context determines its connotation.

What's a synonym for "Nothing"?

"Nought" or "nil" can be synonyms in some contexts.

What is the opposite of "Nothing"?

"Everything" is its opposite.

Can "Anything" imply potential?

Yes, as in "Anything is possible."

Do both words have origins in Old English?

Yes, both have deep roots in the English language.

Is "Anything" more versatile than "Nothing"?

It's broader in scope but context dictates its versatility.

How does "Not anything" differ from "Nothing"?

They are often used similarly, but "Not anything" stresses the "any" part more.

In what scenarios is "Nothing" preferred over "Anything"?

When emphasizing a complete absence or void.

Do both words serve as indefinite pronouns?

Yes, both "Nothing" and "Anything" are indefinite pronouns.

Why might someone say "It's nothing"?

To downplay or dismiss the significance of something.

Can "Anything" be used to express doubt?

Yes, as in "Is there anything you liked about it?"

How does "Anything goes" imply?

It means there are no restrictions or limits.

How do "Nothing" and "Anything" relate to potential?

"Nothing" typically limits potential, while "Anything" opens up possibilities.

Can "Nothing" be used to describe a state of emptiness?

Yes, like "I felt nothing."

Can "Nothing" mean zero in math?

Yes, it can denote the number zero.

Are both words commonly used in everyday English?

Absolutely, both are fundamental to the language and are used frequently.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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