In general we use some (also somebody/someone/something) in positive sentences and any (also anybody, etc.) in negative sentences:
- We bought some flowers.
- He’s busy. He’s got some work to do.
- There’s somebody at the door.
- I’m hungry. I want something to eat.
- We didn’t buy any flowers.
- He’s lazy. He never does any work.
- There isn’t anybody at the door.
- I’m not hungry. I don’t want anything to eat.
We use any in the following sentences because the meaning negative:
– She went out without any money. (= she didn’t take any money with her)
– He refused to eat anything. (= he didn’t eat anything)
– Hardly anybody passed the examination. (= almost nobody passed)
We use both some and any in questions. We use some to talk about a person on thing that
we know exists or we think exists:
– Are you waiting for somebody? (I think you are waiting for somebody)
We use some in questions when we offer or ask for things:
– Would you like something to eat? (there is something to eat)
– Can I have some sugar, please? (there is probably some sugar I can have)
But in most questions, we use any. We do not know if the thing or person exists:
– “Do you have any luggage?” “No, I don’t”
– I can’t find my bag. Has anybody seen it?
We often use any after if:
– If there are any letters for me, can you send them on?
– If anyone has any questions, I’ll be glad to answer them.
– Let me know if you need anything.
The following sentences have the idea of if:
– I’m sorry for any trouble I’ve caused. (= if I have caused any trouble)
– Anyone who wants to take the exam should tell me by Friday. (= if there is anyone)
We also use any with the meaning “it doesn’t matter which”:
– You can take any bus. They all go downtown. (= it doesn’t matter which bus you take)
– “Sing a song.” “Which song should I sing?” “Any song. I don’t care.”
(= it doesn’t matter which song)
– Come and see me anytime you want.
– “Let’s go out somewhere.” “Where should we go?” “Anywhere. It doesn’t matter.”
– We left the door unlocked. Anybody could have come in.
Compare something and anything:
– A : I’m hungry. I want something to eat.
B : What would you like?
A : I don’t care. Anything. (= something, but it doesn’t matter what)
Somebody/someone/anybody/anyone are singular words:
– Someone is here to see you.
But we often use they/them/their after these words:
– Someone has forgotten their umbrella. (= his or her umbrella)
– If anybody want to leave early, they can. (= he or she can)