4

I'm wondering why I always hear "some" in questions, although according to English grammar there should always be "any". At least the one I'm looking at uses "some". For example:

Why are some organizations using X?
Are there any organizations using X?

Is it due to the different nature of these questions? Open-ended vs. closed-ended?

6

It is true that in general in English, 'some' is replaced by 'any' in negative and interrogative contexts. But it is not as simple as that: 'Some' can be used in interrogative contexts, and is then 'marked' as linguists say: choosing it rather than the default conveys some meaning.

I would disagree with kajaco about just what nuance is conveyed: to me the choice of 'some' rather than 'any' is meant to exclude 'all'. So

Why are any organisations using X

may be appropriate even if all organisation are doing so (though the question is perhaps a little unlikely if everybody is doing so); whereas

Why are some organisations using X

implies "and others are not".

1

"Some" implies we are looking for more than one. In your example, we want to know why some organizations are using the frobisher widget, when our experience with it has been terrible (for instance).

"Any" means, we are wondering if even one exists that meets the criteria. Carrying the example further, we want to know if any other organization is using frobisher widgets, or did they all switch to wozgood widgets because they're better.

I do not know what grammar you are referring to that says "there should be always "any"." I've never heard any such thing.

  • Look the pronoun "some" is changing depending on the type of sentence in general. – lisak Oct 6 '10 at 10:21
  • Look the pronoun "some" is changing depending on the type of sentence in general. Declarative : Somebody took my gun. Questions: Did anybody took my gun ? Negative : There isn't anybody who would take your gun. – lisak Oct 6 '10 at 10:27
  • @lisak. "some" and "somebody" are not the same words and the 'some' portion does not carry the same meaning. You cannot conclude anything about "somebody" based on connotations implied in "some". Also, the verb tense in your "Questions" example is incorrect. – kajaco Oct 6 '10 at 13:59
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I have studied thoroughly the issue of any and some and with your permission I would like to contribute with an answer to the question above.

SOME - when one has the object or knowledge of possession. You have some bread. Can you give me some bread? (SOME -is used because I know you have, so it is my opinion that SOME can be used in questions in which we know that the person has the object.)

Do you have any bread? (ANY - one does not know or is not sure if the person has it or not.) SOME - affirmations and questions emplying that the person has the object in question ANY - negation and question in which one does not know whether the person has the object

ANY is always used for NEGATION.

I have also discovered that some/any work with UNSPECIFIED QUANTITIES only. i.e. if one says that
Do you have an orange? - the person specifies the quantity Do you have some oranges? - unspecified quantity.

  • Why are some organizations using X?- We know the organizations exists Are there any organizations using X?- We don t know whether they exist or not. – Linguist Jan 11 '17 at 9:58

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