In a class situation, with a student asking another for coloured pencils, what is the difference in meaning between:

"Do you have coloured pencils?"

and "Do you have ANY coloured pencils?"

  • 1
    In the situation you describe, I would consider the second to be the only natural one. You might ask the first in a shop. – Kate Bunting Nov 19 '20 at 17:43
  • 2
    1: Do you have coloured pencils? implies ...as opposed to just black lead pencils? 2: Do you have any coloured pencils? (with heavy stress on "any") implies speaker is already disappointed because he's just learned that you don't have pencils of the specific colour he wants. 3: Do you have any coloured pencils? (no particular stress on "any") carries exactly the same implications as #1 in all contexts I can currently think of (i.e. - including unstressed "any" has no effect whatsoever - it's just a stylistic choice). – FumbleFingers Nov 19 '20 at 18:05

The word "any" is normal in this context and should be used. It is odd to ask "Do you have coloured pencils".

There are contrastive contexts in which it might appear, for example

I have soft pencils for sketching, and hard pencils for writing.

Okay, by do you have coloured pencils, because I have a whole rainbow.

Or perhaps

I have coloured pens and coloured ink.

Do you have coloured pencils.

In these cases the contrast is being made by the stress (indicated by the slanting letters). However in normal, non-contrastive sentences you would use a determiner of some form:

Do you have any coloured pencils

Yes I have some./ No I don't have any.

  • By the way, is a "Yes, I do" or "No, I don't" type of answer possible to reply to a question like "Do you have any coloured pencils?" – zenith3 Nov 19 '20 at 20:13
  • Yes, it is. But I wanted to show the use of some/any. – James K Nov 19 '20 at 20:19

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