I've learnt that "any" is generally used in questions, but we may use "some" in questions when offering or requesting something.


Would you like some bread? (offer) Can I have some water, please? (request)

Now my question is, is it acceptable if I use "any" in the above examples? Would you like any bread? Can I have any water, please?

Can I say "some" would imply that I expect a positive answer while "any" would imply that I'm not sure?

  • Do you want any gravy on your meat?
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 6, 2020 at 14:21

4 Answers 4


"Would you like any gravy on your meatloaf?" is perfectly idiomatic. "Any" is often used in an offering. But using "any" in a request is not normally done.

  • 1
    But requests disguised as questions can do it: “Do you have any apples left?”
    – Jim
    Feb 5, 2020 at 15:30

Let me address this question pragmatically. There are two instances wherein any can be superceded in a question/request.

  1. First instance is wherein the one who questions is dubious if there is any water/bread left. It can be questioned as:

Can I have some water, if there is any?

In the same perspective, the question Would you like any bread would be rendered ungrammatical [in formal conversation], but might seem correct if you want to sound curt or terse.

  1. Second instance wherein any can be used in the question is if there is more than 1 variety of bread/water, which certainly is unusual in most scenarios. By asking the question:

Would you like any bread?

It is implied that

  • the one who offers the bread has an array of breads

  • since there is would instead of do, the one who offers the bread assumes that the other person must want some bread.


I think replacing 'some' with 'any' in this scenario makes the english sound broken but im sure most would understand.

I would stick to 'some' and only say 'Can I have any water' if any makes your sentance more exact to the situation aka there is a selection of waters to choose from & you dont mind which you recieve so ask for any of said waters.

  • In my textbook there're two possibilities to the following question: "Would you like some/any help?" What's the difference?
    – Ana
    Dec 6, 2019 at 8:55
  • In that scenario the two phrases mean the same thing & have no difference except the wording. Dec 6, 2019 at 9:03
  • Good point, I think in general if you are asking if someone else wants something 'any' works but if you are asking for something 'any' sounds broken. Except if 'any' makes your phrase more specific to the situation. Dec 6, 2019 at 9:07
  • 2
    @Ana. The Grammar Book: An ESL /EFL Teacher's Course (p216) has a section on Some Versus Any. It states (Some) is therefore used in questions that in some way expect a positive answer, such as with an offer: 'A waiter to a customer in a restaurant: Would you like some dessert? (to encourage the answer "yes")'. I agree with thedragonmaster that any works in 'Would you like...' offers, but sounds odd in requests such as Can I have any water?
    – Shoe
    Dec 6, 2019 at 9:30
  • 2
    @Ana. Would you like any help? sounds a little more tentative to me than Would you like some help?. But I think the difference is fairly negligible in this context.
    – Shoe
    Dec 6, 2019 at 10:01

"Would you like any bread?/Can I have any water, please?" don't sound right. "Would you like any of these? - Can I have any of those chocolates?" would be okay. But then "any" is used in a different context.

When you offer somebody bread and ask, Would you like some bread? they can always say, No, thank you. Conversely, if somebody asks you for a glass of water they'll say, Can I have some water, please. You can't use "any" in this context.

Unless there is a choice. "Would you like to taste any of my crackers? I'm warning you, they're all hot. Just try one." "No, thank you, I think I'd rather not try any of your special crackers."

You can ask "Would you like some this or that", expecting an affirmative answer. When You use "any" there should be a choice. Would you like some cake? Would you prefer any piece of this cake, (perhaps the one with the cherry on top)?

Still, I'd advise you to stick to your some/any rules.

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