Common English Mistakes and Mix-ups: any and some


Don’t worry; this post isn’t going to be a full grammar lesson! Some and any are easily confused and teachers will often have more than one lesson on this subject. However, here are the basic differences and a few tips to help prevent future mistakes or mix-ups :).

Any and some are both used with nouns to talk about a quantity when the exact number of something isn’t important (or perhaps the noun is non-count so we can’t have a specific number). In grammar-speak we call them determiners.

Any is usually used for yes/no questions and negative statements (There are exceptions, of course! This IS English we are talking about!). In statements it means none, no amount, or zero.

Is there any milk in the fridge?

I don’t think so. Let me check. Nope! There isn’t any milk in the fridge.

Exception: If the general meaning of the sentence is negative, we use any even if there is no ‘nt’ or ‘not’.

Does she give good advice?

I have never received any bad advice from her!

HINT: If you see ‘nt’ or ‘not’, use any! If you can substitute no, zero, none in the sentence, use any!

In terms of questions, if you don’t know if the answer will be ‘yes’ or ‘no’, use any!

Some is usually used for positive statements. It means that there is a quantity of an object.

Well, we need to stop by the store to get some milk later.

If you need some milk now, I can ask the neighbor.

That’s OK. I can wait.

Exception: When we make a question that is an offer or a request, we may not know if the answer will be ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but we want the person to say ‘yes’, right? So we choose the more positive sounding some :).

                I am really hungry right now. Oh! You have a sandwich! Can I have some of your sandwich?

                Would you mind bringing us some bread please while we wait for our appetizers?

                Do you want some gum? I have a lot to share!

HINT: If you don’t see ‘nt’ or ‘not’, use some! If you can substitute a number or you can see that a quantity of the noun is in front of your eyes, use some!

In terms of questions, if you are offering or requesting and you want the answer to be or think the answer will be ‘yes’, use some!

I hope you found this helpful and good luck!



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