We use any before nouns to refer to indefinite or unknown quantities or an unlimited entity:
Did you bring any bread?
Mr Jacobson refused to answer any questions.
If I were able to travel back to any place and time in history, I would go to ancient China.
Any as a determiner has two forms: a strong form and a weak form. The forms have different meanings.
Weak form any: indefinite quantities
We use any for indefinite quantities in questions and negative sentences. We use some in affirmative sentences:
Have you got any eggs?
I haven’t got any eggs.
I’ve got some eggs.
Not: I’ve got any eggs.
We use weak form any only with uncountable nouns or with plural nouns:
[talking about fuel for the car]
Do I need to get any petrol? (+ uncountable noun)
There aren’t any clean knives. They’re all in the dishwasher. (+ plural noun)
We don’t use any with this meaning with singular countable nouns:
Have you got any Italian cookery books? (or … an Italian cookery book?)
Not: Have you got any Italian cookery book?
Strong form any meaning ‘it does not matter which’
We use any to mean ‘it does not matter which or what’, to describe something which is not limited. We use this meaning of any with all types of nouns and usually in affirmative sentences.
In speaking we often stress any:
Call 0800675-437 for any information about the courses. (+ uncountable noun)
When you make a late booking, you don’t know where you’re going to go, do you? It could be any destination. (+ singular countable noun)
[talking about a contract for new employees]
Do we have any form of agreement with new staff when they start? (+ singular countable noun)
[a parent talking to a child about a picture he has painted]
A: I don’t think I’ve ever seen you paint such a beautiful picture before. Gosh! Did you choose the colours?
B:We could choose any colours we wanted. (+ plural countable noun)