Can someone/anyone help me

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by venice, Jan 30, 2007.

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  1. venice Senior Member

    I'd like to know if I can say "Can anyone help me" using anyone instead of someone, and what is the difference. Thank you.
  2. Pirlo

    Pirlo Senior Member

    Hi Venice,
    Can anyone help me is generally asking anybody, it could be understood as a plural. (I don't think that you would ever use this singularly)
    Can someone help me is a bit more specific, and it's usually used singularly (although it can be used when speaking to multiple people)

    Generally speaking, they are the same and I can't think of a possible distinction that would separate the use of either in a specific context.
  3. disegno

    disegno Senior Member

    San Francisco
    United States English
    You can use both interchangeably. I suppose there would be a nuance of difference...

    Can anyone help me. (Asking the question of a broader range of people)
    Can someone help me. (Asking for specific assistance from a smaller range of people)
  4. venice Senior Member

    Thank Pirlo and Disegno,
    but here in Italy they teach us the following rule:
    You've to use anyone in the negative and/or interrogative sentence.
    You've to use someone in the affermative sentences or in interrogative only if you offer something. But may be I'm a little confused.
  5. SweetSoulSister Senior Member

    American English
    Ciao Venice. :)

    There are 2 ways to pronounce the word 'have': 'haf' (dovere) or 'hav' (avere). When it is pronounced 'haf' we don't usually use the contraction. To me, "I've to go." (devo scappare) sounds very strange, it should be "I have to go."
    Also when referring to possessions, I wouldn't use the contraction: "I have a friend", but not "I've a friend." It's possible that this is just an AE thing. Other natives, what do you say? (Maybe we need a new thread)
    I would use the contraction when 'have' is an auxiliary: "I've been thinking..." or "I've been there 3 times" or "I've seen..."

    I'm not sure about the rules you stated. What do you mean by "only if you offer something"? Maybe:
    Does anyone/someone want this last piece of cake? (Here, I would use 'anyone' and not 'someone')

    Anyway, I agree with Pirlo and Disegno, "anyone" and "someone" can both be used in questions.

    Can anyone hear me?
    Is someone whispering?
    Is anyone home?
    Does anyone have a pencil I can borrow?
    Can anyone/someone tell me where to find a good pizza?
    Can someone/anyone help me? (I prefer 'someone' here)
  6. venice Senior Member

    Hi Sweet,
    thank you for your answer. I didn't know the rule about I've and I have.
    About any and some, I'm very sorry but I'm in a hurry at the moment.
    I think it would be better if we'll open a new thread. I'll post it as soon a possible. Ciao
  7. DAH

    DAH Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    Used in questions and negatives to mean 'a person or people' and used to mean any person or any people. Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
    Used to refer to a single person when you do not know who they are or when it is not important who they are; and not usually used in negatives and questions. Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
  8. dennisruc Senior Member

    english united states
    You have to use anyone in the negative sounds better than you've , which may even be wrong.

    You have to use someone in the affirmative, no you've to use.

    You can say you've got three hours to finish the work. A noun follows you've but when a verb follows, you use you have to
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2012
  9. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australian English
    The contractions I've/You've to ....... are heard in conversation here in Australia. I wouldn't use it in a formal context. I think it's the same in the UK, but someone from there may wish to confirm or otherwise. :)
  10. CPA Senior Member

    British English/Italian - bilingual
    Sounds fine to me, Charles, and not particularly informal either.

    I've a lot to do tomorrow.
    You've a long way to go before you learn to speak Chinese fluently. :)
  11. misterray New Member

    English - United States
    This rule works when it's just "any" and "some" (not "anyone"/"someone", "anywhere"/"somewhere" etc.). It has to do with what word you use before an uncountable noun.
    (+) I have some lettuce.
    (-) I don't have any lettuce.
    (?) Do you have any lettuce?
    For affirmative we use "some," and for negative and questions we use "any." The exception is you can use "some" in a question to offer someone something... for example "Do you want some cake?"

    Just thought it might help to clarify, but this doesn't apply to "anyone" and "someone."
  12. london calling Senior Member

    I beg to differ.;) Someone can be used in the interrogative form as well.

    Qualcuno mi può dare/mi dà una mano? can be translated by either 'Can anyone help me?' or by 'Can someone help me?', the difference being (in my view) that if I use the word 'someone' I'm pretty sure that someone can indeed help me.;)
  13. misterray New Member

    English - United States
    I was talking about the rule Venice mentioned, where any is for negative and interrogative sentences, and some is for affirmative sentences. That rule doesn't apply to "anyone/someone," for the exact reason you show with your example. I was trying to clarify that that rule is just for when it's "any" or "some" by itself, and not compound forms like "anyone/someone, anywhere/somewhere" etc.
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