the difference between words: some and any

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Today’s blog entry is about the difference between “some” and “any”. This is confusing for a lot of students especially people at a lower level. The basic difference is that we use “any” in the question form and in the negative form, and we use “some” in the positive form. For example:

Do you have any juice?

We don’t have any juice.

We have some juice.

Are there any paintings by Picasso in this museum?

There aren’t any paintings by Picasso in this museum.

There are some paintings by Picasso in this museum.

So, as you can see from my examples, it doesn’t matter if the nouns are countable or uncountable. However, if they are countable, you must put an “s” at the end of the word.

As I mentioned above, we use “any” for the question forms. However, sometimes we can also use “some” for the question form. There is a very subtle difference in meaning between the using “some” and “any” in the question: When we use “any” in the question, it means that we have absolutely no information about the answer. When we use “some” in the question, it means that we have some information that tells us a possible answer to the question. For example:

Do you have any juice?

(This means we have no information about whether the other persons keeps juice in their house because we’re probably visiting them for the first time.)

Do you have some juice?

(This means that we’ve probably visited them before and they had juice in the house  before. However, we don’t know if they have juice in the house right now.)

Let me give you some more examples:

Do we need to buy any apples?

Do you think we should buy some apples?

Do you need any more time to finish the test?

Would you like some more time to finish the test?

Do you have anything to drink?

Would you like something to drink?

So, as you can see from the last two sentences, the words “something” and “anything” can be used in questions following the same rules for “some” and “any”.

Also, please note that it’s very common to use “some” or “something” when making offers using “Would you like…?”.

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3 Comments »

  1. streeeemer Said:

    Also, please note that it’s very common to use “some” or “something” when making offers using “Would you like…”.

    Does this mean that we can use some or something even when we don’t have any information for the situation?

    • Hi there.

      Yes. When using “would you like…”, the most common way is to use “some” even when we don’t have any information about the other person’s answer.

      Thanks for your question.

      Mike

      • streeeemer Said:

        Thank you very much for ansewering it 🙂


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