Some and Any: What’s the Difference? Easy English

I always think the smallest words in a language are hardest to learn. Small words usually (often, a lot of time) have a lot of exceptions. They can also be very similar (the same)! So how do you know when to use them? How do you know when to use some and any?

For example, what is the difference between, “We have some pineapples,” and “We don’t have any pineapples”?

If you don’t know, or are not sure, read on to find out the answer!

Some

Some always means that you know “it” is there. “It” exists. You can see it, or you know that it is there, but you have still a question about it.

There are a few ways you can use some.

The first way is quite easy. You have something at home, but don’t know how much you have- pineapples, for example. You have pineapples at home, but you don’t know if you have two or six or twenty. If someone asks you if you have pineapples at your house, you can say, “Yes, I have some pineapples,” or, “Yes, I have some.” They are there. They definitely exist.

Some, in this case, shows that you have an amount, but don’t know exactly how much. Or the exact amount may not matter.

Here’s another example:

A: Do you have time for lunch today?

B: Yes, I have some time, but I’m not sure how much.

In these cases, some means “a certain amount”.

The second way you use some is when you’re talking about singular uncountable nouns. Uncountable nouns are nouns like money, milk, juice, coffee, and information. You cannot count the individual number of milk or information, so they are considered uncountable.

Because you can’t say how many individual “milks” there are in a glass of milk, you use some.

For example:

  • Would you like some milk?
  • I have some money.
  • He has some information about the meeting.
  • She had some juice with breakfast.
  • Can you buy some coffee?

Any

Any is used in a very similar way to some, but with a few key differences. First of all, any can be used with plural countable nouns. Countable nouns are words like tomatoes, books, birds, plants, etc. They’re called countable nouns because you can count how many there are.

For example:

  • I have twenty-eight books.
  • We have three tomatoes.
  • He has nine plants.

Along with being used with plural countable nouns, any is used in negative sentences and questions. When any is used in negative sentences and questions, it can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.

For example:

  • He didn’t buy any tomatoes at the store. (He bought no tomatoes.)
  • Do you have any plants? (Do you have plants?)
  • Do they have any juice at their house? (Do they have juice?)
  • She doesn’t have any books. (She has no books.)
  • I don’t have any pineapples at home. (I have no pineapples at home.)

Exceptions to Some and Any

There are a few exceptions (breaks to the rule) to this.

You can also use any in a positive sentence when it’s not important which one. For example, if you say “You can take any bus from this stop,” it doesn’t matter which bus they take. They all go to the same place.

Some can also be used in questions when you think the answer is going to be yes. This is most common in requests.

For example:

  • Can you give me some help, please?
  • Do you want some coffee?
  • Could you please give me some salt?
  • Does he want some cookies to take on the plane?

Do you have any questions? Make sure to try using some and any in some sentences of your own in the comments below!

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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and if she has any question, she always asks someone who has some of the right answers!  

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