Some, Any

Lesson 7. Video lesson on the use of "some" and "any". Check your knowledge: can we use “some” for questions? Can we use “any” for uncountables?

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Some, Any - Exercise 1
  Video Exercise 1  Some, Any - Exercise 2  PDF Exercise 2

Some, Any - Revision PDF
  Revision PDF

Lesson transcript:

In the next three lessons we're going to look at quantity in English.

So, in this lesson we'll look at 'some' and 'any', in the next lesson we'll look at 'many', 'much' and 'a lot of' and in the third lesson we'll look at 'a few' and 'a little'.

Now, for each type of quantity, whether it's some, or many or a few, we'll check if they work with countables or with uncountables.

And we'll also check if they work in question or in negative sentences.

So, let's start with 'some' and 'any'. And the first question we're going to ask is – why do we use 'some' and 'any'?

Starting with 'some', let's compare two sentences: 'do you sell coffee?' and 'would you like some coffee?'. What's the difference?

Well with just 'coffee', we're thinking about coffee in general – and with 'some coffee' we're thinking about a quantity of coffee, as you can see <here>.

Two more sentences this time with 'any'.

The first sentence is 'I love chocolate' and the second is 'is there any chocolate left?'.

Again, what's the difference?

Well, in the first sentence, 'chocolate', we're thinking about chocolate in general, and in the second 'any chocolate' again, we're thinking about a quantity of chocolate.

There will practice sentences like these in the exercises after the lesson but first we need to find out if 'some' and 'any' work with countables and uncountables and if they work with questions and in negative sentences.

What we will do is complete <this table>.

As you can see, we have 'some' and 'any' <here> and we're going to complete the boxes for countables and uncountables, positive statements, questions and negatives.

So let's start with 'some'.

And the first question is: does it work with countables or uncountables?

For example, can we say 'some apple', the word being countable singular.

And the answer is: no we can't.

'Some' does not normally work with countable singular.

How about 'some apples'? ('Apples' being countable plural.) Does this work?

The answer is yes, it does.

'Some' is good with countable plurals.

Finally, 'some bread' (bread being uncountable). Does 'some' work here?

And the answer is yes it does. 'Some' is fine with uncountables. So let's summarise –

'Some' works with countable plurals – 'some apples' and uncountables – 'some bread'.

Let's now find out if we can use some with positive, question and negative sentences.

<Here> are three examples sentences, in the positive, the question, and the negative.

First, in the positive, can we say we need 'some apples' or 'some bread' – does it work?

And the answer is yes it does.

'Some' is fine in the positive. Next, in the question, can we say: 'would you like some apples?' or 'would you like some bread?'.

And the answer is – yes we can. 'Some' works with question.

Finally, in the negative, can we say 'we don't have some apples' or 'we don't have some bread'?

The answer is – no we can't. 'Some' does not usually work in the negative.

So let's now complete our table. 'Some' in the positive is fine. 'Some' in the question is also fine however, 'some' in the negative does not work, or at least it's very rare.

So that's 'some'. Let's now turn to 'any', and again, we need to find out if it works with countables or with uncountables.

For example, can we say 'any apple' – 'apple' being countable singular?

The answer is no we can't. Normally we do not use any with countable singulars.

Next, can we say 'any apples',  apples being countable plural?

And the answer is yes we can. 'Any' is fine with countable plurals.

And finally can we say 'any bread', bread being uncountable? The answer is yes we can. 'Any' is fine with uncountables.

So, to summarise, 'any' is just like 'some' because we can use it with countable plurals – 'any apples' – and also with uncountables – 'any bread'.

Let's now check if we can use 'any' with positive, question and negative sentences.

Three sentences again, in the positive question and negative.

In the positive: 'I bought any apples' or 'any bread' does this work?

The answer is no it doesn't. 'Any' is normally no good in the positive.

Normally it's better to use 'some' here.

How about in the question – can we say 'do you have any apples' or 'any bread'?

And the answer is yes we can. 'Any' is fine in the question. And finally, can we use 'any' in the negative?

Can we say 'I don't want any apples' or 'any bread'?

The answer is yes we can. 'Any' is fine in the negative as well.

So, to complete our table – 'any' does not normally work in positive statements (although in certain cases it is okay and we'll will look at those in the PDF).

Next, 'any' is fine with questions and also fine in negatives. So a final summary, firstly regarding countables and uncountables.

We've seen that both 'some' and 'any' can work with countable plurals and with uncountables.

So, we can say 'some apples' and 'some bread' we can also say 'any apples' and 'any bread'.

We don't normally use 'some' and 'any' with countable singular although there are exceptions, and we will look at those again in the PDF.

Meanwhile, regarding positive, question and negatives, we saw that 'some' works with positive statements, for example 'I bought some apples'.

We saw that 'some' can be used with questions.

For example: 'would you like some apples'?

And we saw that we don't normally use 'some' with negative sentences.

Finally, we saw that 'any' does not usually work in positive statements, although again there are exceptions.

Meanwhile, 'any' does work with questions. For example: 'do you have any apples?'.

And finally, we saw that 'any' works in negative sentences. For example, 'I don't want any apples'.

Now, before we finish you might be wondering what the difference is between questions where 'some' is used and where 'any' is used.

Let's take a closer look. Here we have 'some' and here we have 'any'. And I've divided questions into three types: enquiries, offers and requests.

Let's concentrate on enquiries and offers first of all.  

And for 'some' we might say 'is there some coffee?'

For 'any' we might say 'is there any coffee?'.

Both are enquiries. In other words, we are checking for information.

Meanwhile, for offers we might say 'would you like some help'?

And for 'any', we might say 'would you like any help?'

Both sentences are offers. Now, what's the difference between the 'some' questions and the 'any' questions?

Well, the answer is, when we say 'some coffee', or 'some help' in the question we are expecting or hoping for a 'yes'.

Whereas, if we say 'any coffee' or 'any help' in the question, there is an element of doubt.

So, once again, if I say: 'is there some coffee?', perhaps I can see a coffee pot  and I'm hoping for or expecting a 'yes'.

Whereas if I say 'is there any coffee?' I'm not as sure as I am in <this case>.

Perhaps there is no coffee pot, for example, and I just don't know the answer. I have an element of doubt.

It's the same with offers – the second type of question.

The difference between 'would you like some help?' and 'would you like any help?' is that in the first case, where I'm hoping or expecting a 'yes', perhaps I can see that a person is having some difficulty and needs some help.

Whereas in the second, perhaps there is no indication that the person needs some help. There is an element of doubt, or I just don't know the answer.

Now, the third type of question is requests, and again two more example sentences:

'Can I have some coffee?' and 'can I have any coffee?' – is there a difference between these two requests?

Well, the difference is that 'can I have some coffee?' is correct, whereas 'can I have any coffee?' is wrong.

So, for requests we can only say 'some'.

Now here is the PDF of the lesson. There are also some example sentences for reference.

I've also included an explanation of the difference between some and any in questions and finally there is a note about any in the positive which is used for certain cases.

Join me in part 2 for a very short practice exercise on 'some' and 'any' and in the next lesson we're going to look at 'many', 'much' and 'a lot of'.

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Nouns: Countables, Uncountables (1)
Articles (2)
(3) | (Zero Article 4) | The: Special Uses (5)
There is, there are (6)
Quantity: Some, Any (7) | Many, Much, A lot of (8) | A few, a little (9)
Prepositions of time: In, On, At (10)
The Present: Present Simple (11) | Present Continuous (12)
The Past: Past Simple (13) | Past Continuous (14) | Present Perfect (15)
Irregular Verbs (16)
The Future: Future Simple (17) | Future Plans (18)
Phrasal Verbs (19) (20)

     Countable and uncountable nouns 

     Countable and Uncountable
     Learn the two key rules

     "The": Special Uses
      "The": Special Uses
      10 special uses of 'the' here

     Phrasal Verbs - Part 1 

     Phrasal Verbs Part 1
     Each example with a picture

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