The indefinite pronouns "some" and "any"
The words "some" and "any" are generally used when you speak about an indefinite quantity of something. That means that you don't exactly know or define the quantity of something.
They always describe a noun and stand in front of it. You can use them with countable and uncountable nouns.
"Some" and "any" basically have the same meaning, but we use them in different ways. Look at the following examples:
- I need some days off work, I'm sick.
- He's just meeting some friends of his.
- They are buying some new clothes for the kids.
- She is at the store to get some food.
As you can see, you usually use "some" in positive statements. Also, you use "some" in questions that are a polite request or an offer to someone:
- Can I have some water?
- Could you lend me some money?
- How about some coffee?
- Do you want some biscuits?
You usually use the word "any" in negative statements:
- We haven't got any bread at home.
- There aren't any new messages on the answering machine.
- She didn't have any news.
- I don't have any money at the moment.
In these cases, you deny or doubt the existence of the things you talk about. If it doesn't matter, which option one chooses from a range of possibilities, you also use "any":
- You can come over any day, I am at home all week.
- Any bus takes you to the theatre from here.
- I like any kind of music.
In addition, you use "any" in most questions that are not a polite request or an offer:
- Can you give me any news on the elections?
- Do you have any idea what's going on?
- Are there any playgrounds around your neighbourhood?
Practise the use of some and any. Read the sentences below and select the right word.
"Some" and "any" can also stand alone, that means without a noun. However, it's only correct when the thing or person that you talk about is known. Usually it is only the case in an answer to a question.
Study the examples:
- Have you got any orange juice? No, I haven't got any. OR Yes, I have got some.
- Are there any nice bars around? No, there aren't any. OR Yes, there are some.
- Do you know any interesting museums? No, I don't know any. OR Yes, I know some.
Be careful: The use of "any" in an answer does NOT depend on Yes or No. Look at the following examples:
- Can I take any train to New York? Yes, you can take any. All the trains go to New York from here.
- Can I borrow any of your Pink CDs? Yes, take any.
You use "any" in a positive answer, when you want to say that it doesn't matter which.
Practise these kinds of answers. Decide which answers are correct.
Well done, you have learned a lot of new grammar!