We use some and any with uncountable nouns and plural nouns. The general rule is that you use “some” in positive sentences and “any” in negative sentences and questions.
“I have some ideas.”
“I don’t have any ideas.”
“Do you have any ideas?”
However, we can also use “some” in questions.
“Would you like some tea?” (I expect the answer to be “Yes”.)
When we use some in a question, we limit what we are offering the other person.
For example, “Can I get you something to drink? – Coffee, or tea?” means I am offering you a limited choice of things to drink.
When we use “any” in a question, we are not limiting the choice.
For example, “Would you like anything to drink?” includes a whole range of things to drink.
“Do you have any questions?” (You can ask me anything you like!)
We can also use any in positive sentences which have a negative meaning. We often use “any” with “hardly”, “without” or “never”.
“There’s hardly any petrol left in the car – we need to go to a garage.”
“He went out without any money on him.”
“She never has any problem understanding.”
We can also use “some” and “any” at the end of a sentence, as pronouns.
“Do you need any money for the shopping?”
“It’s OK, but I’ve already got some.” (some = some money)
“Who ate all the chocolates?”
“Not me. I haven’t had any.” (any = any chocolates)
Compound uses of some and any
We can combine some and any with other words:
Something – anything
Somewhere – anywhere
Someone – anyone
Somebody – anybody
The rules for using these are the same as the rules for using some and any.
“I need to find somewhere to live.” (positive sentence)
“Is there anywhere you would recommend?” (question)
“I didn’t know anyone at the party.” (negative sentence)
“Somebody at the party spilt beer on the carpet.” (we’re not sure who)
Do you feel confident about quantifiers in English Check out our grammar exercise to check your understanding of some, any, no and a.