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Student at A2/B1 level. 2 years on Duolingo and just started ‘Italy Made Easy’ Intermediate course. Google Translate gives over 10 different translations for ‘any’. Duolingo marks one correct for translating ‘any’ as qualsiasi in one translation of ‘any’, but wrong in another, giving ‘qualche’ instead. Any advice on how one works out which to use and why please? Thanks

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    Welcome to ItalianSE!! – abarisone May 14 at 6:25
  • As an Italian, I have no idea what it is meant by knowing Italian at a A2/B1 level, so I'm asking: are you at a level where a monolingual dictionary is useful to you? See for instance Treccani dictionary about “qualsiasi”. In my study of foreign language, I find such dictionaries very useful, but of course they already require a non-trivial knowledge of the language. – DaG May 14 at 9:46
  • @DaG A2/B1 is definitely not a point where a monolingual dictionary is useful. This is a European standard to establish language proficiency, and so widely used that I think it's fine to just drop it in the question without comments. – Denis Nardin May 14 at 11:40
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    There is no hard and fast rule for translating any; just think that a common error for Italians when speaking English is confusing any and some, which in several contexts are rendered in Italian with the same word (qualche or similar). Maybe if you present some examples you're uncertain with could help in giving a sensible answer to clear up your doubts. – egreg May 14 at 16:28
  • Thanks to all for the comments. As Denis Nardin stated the A2/B1 refers to the EU classification of the proficiency standard of language learners, the Common European Reference Framework (CERF). It is almost universally used throughout Europe by those that teach languages. A1 = (veryA2 = basic, B1 = lower intermediate, B2 = advanced intermediate, and so on – Den A2-B1 May 16 at 5:09
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I am going to refer to the "Cambridge Dictionary - Grammar Today" section about "any" and provide you a translation of the examples:

Examples of language in use

Any as a determiner

  • Did you bring any bread? -> Hai portato del/il pane?
  • Mr Jacobson refused to answer any questions. -> Mr Jacobson ha rifiutato di rispondere a qualsiasi/qualunque domanda
  • If I were able to travel back to any place and time in history, I would go to ancient China. -> Se potessi viaggiare indietro nella storia a qualunque/qualsiasi periodo e luogo, andrei nell'antica Cina

Weak form any: indefinite quantities [1]

  • Have you got any eggs? -> Hai (delle) uova
  • I haven’t got any eggs. -> Non ho (delle) uova
  • I’ve got some eggs. -> Ho delle/alcune uova
  • Do I need to get any petrol? -> Devo fare benzina?
  • There aren’t any clean knives. They’re all in the dishwasher. -> Non ci sono (dei) coltelli puliti. Sono tutti nella lavastoviglie

Strong form any meaning ‘it does not matter which’ [2]

  • Call 0800675-437 for any information about the courses -> Chiama lo 0800675-437 per qualsiasi/qualunque informazione sui corsi
  • When you make a late booking, you don’t know where you’re going to go, do you? It could be any destination. -> Quando fai una prenotazione last-minute non sai dove andrai, vero? Potrebbe essere qualsiasi/qualunque destinazione
  • Do we have any form of agreement with new staff when they start? -> Abbiamo qualche forma di accordo con il nuovo staff, su quando inizieranno?

Any as a pronoun

A: Have you got some £1 coins on you?
B: Sorry, I don’t think I have any. -> Spiacente, non penso di averne

A: Do you find that Elizabeth gets lots of homework? Marie gets a lot.
B: No not really. She gets hardly any. -> Veramente no. Ne ha a malapena.

A: What did you think of the cake? It was delicious, wasn’t it?
B: I don’t know. I didn’t get any. -> Non so. Non ne ho mangiata/avuta

Any of [3]

  • Shall I keep any of these spices? I think they’re all out of date. -> Devo tenere qualcuna di queste spezie? Penso che siano tutte scadute.
  • Are any of you going to the meeting? -> Qualcuno di voi sta andando all'incontro?
  • I couldn’t answer any of these questions. -> Non potrei rispondere a nessuna/alcuna di queste domande
  • I listen to Abba but I’ve never bought any of their music. -> Ascolto gli Abba ma non ho mai comprato la loro musica

Notes about the grammar

[1] Any as a determiner for indefinite quantities

As a general rule of thumb, when in English you use any + plural noun or any + uncountable noun, in Italian you do not translate at all "any" or you use the preposition di ("of") + the appropriate article for the name (il, lo, la, i, gli, le):

  • di + il = del (masculine singular)
  • di + lo = dello (masculine singular)
  • di + la = della (feminine singular)
  • di + i = dei (masculine plural)
  • di + gli = degli (masculine plural)
  • di + le = delle (feminine plural)

[2] Any as a determiner meaning ‘it does not matter which’

In general, when "any" indicates "one (or more), no matter which", you translate it with "qualunque" or "qualsiasi"; whet it indicates "zero (or more), no matter which" you translate it with "qualche". In the examples, if you call the number you have at least one question about the courses,if you make a late booking you'll be offered at least one destination but you might or might not have an agreement with the new staff.

[3] Any of

In general, in positive sentences you use "qualcuno/a di" and in negative ones you use "nessuno/a di" or "alcuno/a di". With uncountable nouns, like in the last example, you do not translate "any".

About the double negation in Italian

As suggested by @DenisNardin, the double negation can be confusing for an English speaker but the topic is not strictly related to this question and might require a long explanation, therefore I am going to link a couple of resources where you can find some more information:

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  • I think this answer could benefit by explaining in a bit more detail the behaviour in negative sentences (since double negation is often confusing for English speakers) – Denis Nardin May 18 at 10:24
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    @DenisNardin, I thought about it but double negation could be an entire topic by itself and I am afraid the answer could become too long and complex. Anyway, I'll try to add something about it (maybe just references to other questions or external resources) later today or as soon as I have time. Thanks for the suggestion ;) – secan May 18 at 11:02
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It depends on the context of the sentence:

  • in negative sentences the meaning is that of "nessuno, alcuno"
    es.: There aren't any jewels in the treasure chest (Non c'è nessun gioiello nel forziere)
  • in interrogative and affirmative sentences the meaning is that of “qualche, alcuni, un po’
    es.:
    Do you have any coins? (Hai qualche moneta?)
    Do you like any of these topping on your frozen yogurt? (Ti piace qualcuno di questi condimenti sul tuo yogurt gelato?)
  • in affirmative sentences exceptionally it has the meaning of "qualsiasi"
    es.: Pick any fruit you want (Scegli qualsiasi frutto che vuoi)

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