Some, any and no in English
Feel free to leave a comment if you find any errors or if you have any suggestions to make to improve this lesson.
Some, any and no are quantifiers: they indicate a certain quantity or indefinite quantity. They can also be determinants or pronouns. Other undefined quantifiers are a little more precise (see this lesson here).
Some is used in affirmative sentences. It indicates that the name it determines has a real existence:
- I would like some sugar with my coffee.
- There’s some pizza in the oven.
Some can be used in a questioning sentence, one then expects a positive answer – or if one wants to convince the interlocutor to give a positive answer:
- Would you like some tea?
- Would you like some more information?
- Could you give me some water?
- Could you lend me some money?
⚠️ Some + name can also be used to translate ‘a certain…’ or something vague:
- Some woman is asking for you.
- Some people are driving really dangerously.
⚠️ Some + number = ‘about’ or ‘around’
- He lives some three kilometres frome here.
⚠️ Some can be used to express appreciation:
- He’s some singer!
- That’s some beer!
Any is used in negative sentences to indicate that the name it determines has no (or perhaps no) real existence:
- He doesn’t have any friend.
- There aren’t any eggs in the fridge.
- I didn’t buy any.
It is also used in interrogative sentences, when it is not known whether the element to which it refers has a real existence or not.
- Do you have any family around?
- Have you seen any horses in this park?
- Did we get any mail today?
Any can be used to make generalizations:
- Any student can do that.
No equals to not any. It’s used in sentences with a negative meaning, but with a positive verb:
- They have no alcohol here.
- There are no wolves here.
Some expressions with no:
- No problem
- No comment
- No vacancies
- No entry
Compund words with SOME-, ANY-, NO-
- somebody, anybody
- someone, anyone
- something, anything
- somewhere, anywhere
- nobody, no one
⚠️ Compare the following sentences:
- Did you buy some bread? (we are waiting for a positive answer)
- Did you buy any bread? (we have no idea of the answer.)
⚠️ With a count in the singular, some and any do not refer to quantity but underline the indefinite character of the name:
- We’ll meet again some day.
- Any car will be better than this one!
⚠️ After some and any, the name may be implied, if it is obvious:
- ‘I bought too many cakes. would you like some?’ ‘No, I don’t want any.’