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When to Use “Some” vs. “Any”

Descriptive language is used in virtually all forms of writing. From poetry to technical journals to personal narratives, being able to accurately and adequately describe is an important skill. One of the most common ways to describe objects, states, and occurrences is to assign a numeric value—or an approximation of a numeric or quantitative value. For instance:

“We saw some deer as we drove.”

Any one of us would have trouble keeping still on an eight-hour car ride—not just Alice.”

Is There a Difference?

Although these are common ways to describe people, places, and things, learning which word is correct can be more difficult. Because much of the English language is nuanced in its approach, there are some important things to remember when trying to select between using some and using any.

One Main Rule

The primary and simplest rule is this: Some is usually used when answering a question, or describing a positive, while any is typically used when asking a question, or answering in the negative.

Using Any

For instance, you might see “any” in these contexts:

“Do we have any Halloween candy left?” “No, we don’t have any.”

Using Some

Conversely, the word “some” could be used in this scenario:

“Do we have any chocolate?” “Yes, I think we have some.”

Are There Exceptions?

Although these are usually safe rules, there are some exceptions. Some may be used in questions as well, as is the case with this query:

“May I have some more jam?”

“Any” can also be used in a positive response, as is the case when someone enthusiastically declares, “Sure! Any time!”

Both words are used to describe an indeterminate amount, and both can be used to both ask and answer questions.

Although learning when to use some and when to use any can seem daunting, sticking to the general rules (using some when asking or answering positively, and using any when asking or answering negatively) can help build your confidence in their usage, so that you feel more at home with the exceptions to the rule. If you have additional questions about English usage or other facets of correct English language use, check out our free English Basics study guides, practice questions, and flashcards.

Some vs Any

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