An Introduction to Using "Any" and "Some" for ESL Beginners

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'Any' and 'some' are used in positive and negative statements as well as in questions and can be used for both countable and uncountable (non countable) nouns. Although there are some exceptions, 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.

How to Use Some

Use 'some' in positive sentences. We use 'some' with both countable and uncountable nouns.

  • I have some friends.
  • She wants some ice cream.

We use 'some' in questions when offering or requesting something that is there.

  • Would you like some bread? (offer)
  • Could I have some water? (request)

Words with Some

Words such as 'somebody', 'something', 'somewhere' which include 'some' follow the same rules. Use 'some' words—somebody, someone, somewhere and something—in positive sentences.

  • He lives somewhere near here.
  • He needs something to eat.
  • Peter wants to speak to someone at the store.

How to Use Any

Use 'any' in negative sentences or questions. We use any for both countable and uncountable nouns.

  • Do you have any cheese?
  • Did you eat any grapes after dinner?
  • He doesn't have any friends in Chicago.
  • I don't wont any trouble.

Words with Any

Words with 'any' such as: 'anybody', 'anyone', 'anywhere' and 'anything' follow the same rule and are used in negative sentences or questions.

  • Do you know anything about that boy?
  • Have you spoken to anyone about the problem?
  • She doesn't have anywhere to go.
  • They didn't say anything to me.

Sample Conversations with Some and Any

  • 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.


Fill in the gaps in the sentences below with 'some' or 'any', or some or any words (somewhere, anybody, etc.)

1. Would you like _______ to eat?
2. I have _______ money in my wallet.
3. Is there _______ juice in the fridge?
4. He can't think of _______ to do.
5. I'd like to go _______ hot for my vacation.
6. Is there _______ who plays tennis in your class?
7. I'm afraid I don't have ______ answers to life's problems.
8. Could I have _______ water?
An Introduction to Using "Any" and "Some" for ESL Beginners
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An Introduction to Using "Any" and "Some" for ESL Beginners
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