Using Something and Anything ›› Difference between Anything and Something


Hello English learners! Today, we are going to discuss when to use something and when to use anything. This question has its roots in the negative realm. I am going to start with the word something.

The word something is generally used as a pronoun. This means that it replaces a noun. The word something has a definition of a specific undermined or uncertain thing.

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For example

  • My daughter told me something about Shopkins, but I can’t remember it now.
  • There is something about that car, it is magical.
  • Is something wrong with Frank? 

The word something can also mean a person or a thing of great value.

When it follows this definition then the word something is a noun (a person, place or thing).

For example

  • She sure is something!! I think I am in love with her. 
  • Tom has something to say that is very important.

For the most part, English speakers use something in positive/affirmative sentences.

This is also true for somebody, someone and some.

For example

  • I have something to tell you. 
  • Give me something in exchange for my cookies. 
  • If you order food from that Indian restaurant, could you order me something too?

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It is also possible to use something in questions.

We can use the word something to represent a thing that we know exists or we are pretty sure it exists.

For example

  • Do you think that there is something in the Loch Ness lake in Scotland? 
  • Is there something else I can help you with? 
  • Did your mom get you something from Paris?

The word something can also be used in a question when you ask for things or if you offer something.

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For example

  • Did you want something to eat? 
  • Would you like to put something on your salad? We have Ranch dressing. 
  • Could I have something spicy to eat?

Now let’s talk about something more complicated which is the word anything.

Similar to the word something, the word anything is generally used as a pronoun.

My definition of the word anything is whatever; I don’t care what it is.

The word anything is generally used in negative sentences:

Here are some examples to help clear this up:

  • I didn’t get anything for my birthday. 
  • That guy can handle spicy foods, he didn’t drink anything after eating Indian food. 
  • When he opened the closet, he didn’t find anything there.

The word anything is used in sentences where the meaning is negative.

This is the major difference between the words something and anything.

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Something can NEVER be used in negative sentences!

For example 

  • Hardly anything makes Tom smiled these days. 
  • There wasn’t anything about verbs on the English exam. 
  • She didn’t have anything in his bank account.

Most questions in the English language use anything when we don’t know if the thing exists.

Here are some examples

  • I don’t think anything will help is financial situation.
  • There isn’t anything you can say to make me feel better. 
  • She didn’t bring anything to the party.

Returning back to my definition of anything meaning I don’t care.

Here are some better examples:

  • Could you give me anything to write with? (It could be a pencil, pen or crayon, I don’t care. I just need something to write with.)
  • Do you have anything to drink? It is very hot. (I am so thirsty that I will drink coffee, I don’t care.)
  • Can you turn on some music? You can play anything that you want. (Any music is better than working in silence.)

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The word anything is used with the word if. The word if indicates a condition.

For example

  • If there is anything I can do for you, just let me know. 
  • If anything happens, don’t hesitate to call. 
  • If anything wakes up my child, I will be very upset.

In summary, the word something cannot be used in NEGATIVE sentences, whereas the word anything CAN be used in NEGATIVE sentences.

Well, that is it for using something and anything.

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Try out your English for free and leave your own sentence in the comments below.

See you next time with some more interesting posts!

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1 month ago

Hello. Thank you very much for the most detailed and clear explanation! Could you please comment on this sentence where I don’t see the word “anything” to be used properly: “I’m often angry when anything doesn’t work”. It seems “something” will be more appropriate here although the sentence is negative.