‘Any’ and ‘some’

28 February

‘Any’ and ‘some’ are used in positive and negative statements as well as in questions. Generally speaking, ‘any’ is used in questions and for negative statements while ‘some’ is used in positive statements.

Is there any milk in the fridge?
There aren’t any people in the park today.
I have some friends in Chicago.

There are exceptions, however, to this rule. Here’s an explanation of how to use ‘any’ and ‘some’ correctly.

Read the conversation below:

Barbara: Is there any milk left?
Katherine: Yes, there is some in the bottle on the table.
Barbara: Would you like some milk?
Katherine: No, thank you. I don’t think I’ll drink any tonight. Could I have some water, please?
Barbara: Sure. There is some in the fridge.

In this example, Barbara asks ‘Is there any milk left?’ using ‘any’ because she doesn’t know if there is milk or not. Katherine responds with ‘some milk’ because there is milk in the house. In other words, ‘some’ indicates that there is milk. The questions ‘would you like some’ and ‘could I have some’ refers to something that exists that is offered or requested.

Barbara: Do you know anybody who comes from China?
Katherine: Yes, I think there is someone who is Chinese in my English class.
Barbara: Great, could you ask him some questions for me?
Katherine: No problem. Is there anything special you want me to ask?
Barbara: No, I don’t have anything in particular in mind. Maybe you could ask him some questions about life in China. Is that OK?
Katherine: Sure. 

The same rules apply in this conversation, but are used for words made using ‘some’ or ‘any’. The question ‘Do you know anybody’ is used because Barbara doesn’t know if Katherine knows a person from China. Katherine then uses ‘someone’ to refer to a person she knows. The negative form of ‘anything’ is used in the sentence ‘I don’t have anything’ because it is in the negative.

We will finish looking at the use of ‘some’ and ‘any’ on the 3 March

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