Have you got <any><some> paper for the printer?

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Anais Lee

Senior Member
Cantonese
I find the "any vs some" rules really frustrating and it seems only native speakers have the intuition of what's right. I've read that "any" is generally used in questions but then "some" can be used in questions when the speaker expects a positive answer. If I say "have you got some paper for the printer?", is there any subtle difference from "have you got any paper for the printer?"

I've also heard that there's little difference between "do you need any help?" and "do you need some help?", which makes it even more confusing.
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, a subtle but not particularly important difference.

    I can't find the printer paper. "Have you got any paper for the printer?"

    You have just received the stationery delivery. I ask you "Did you get/Have you got some paper for the printer?"

    But that is not in any way a rule.
     

    Anais Lee

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    If I ask the question because I can't find the printer paper, would it be correct if I use "some" instead of "any"?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Yes. If any qualifies plural noun or an uncountable noun (and in your example, "paper" is uncountable) then any and some are interchangeable:
    Have you
    (i) any <apples/paper> implies an indefinite number or quantity of all the apples/paper that are/is available [in the world].
    (ii) some <apples> is the plural of an apple, where an apple = one example of an apple - Some apples = a plural number but not a large number or quantity of examples of apples.
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    If I know or expect that the other person has got some paper somewhere, and I'm just asking them in a polite/friendly way to bring it, I could say:
    Have you got some paper for the printer?

    But if I have no idea whether they have or haven't, I'm more likely to say:

    Have you got any paper for the printer?

    In many instances, any and some are effectively interchangeable ie people could use either and it wouldn't make any significant difference.

    However, when answering either of the above example questions, the answer would need to be:
    Yes, I have some. (Not 'any'.)
    Or:
    No, I don't have any. (Not 'some'.)
     
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