an example from the textbook "the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language", page 359:
(1) I didn’t agree with some of the things he said.

As far as I know, "some" can't be used after negation. But in (1) it is. Why is this so?
What does "some" mean here?

my variant:
(2) I didn’t agree with any of the things he said.

Is (2) correct?
If not, then why not?
If it is, then what does "any" mean here: its usual meaning for negative statements or maybe something else?

update №1:

Here is the reason I said "some" can't be used after negation:

an example from the textbook "the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language", page 360:

(3) He hadn't eaten some of the meat. — It could be used only in the special context of denying a previous utterance of "He had eaten some of the meat" or the like.

Why does (1) not need an analogous special context to be correct?
I mean: if (3) is incorrect without the special context, then why is (1) correct without it?

update №2:

the excerpt from the textbook where I took (1) and (3) from:

the textbook "the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language", pages 359-360

  • 1
    The alternative that you've given means something very different than the original sentence. (1) is a very common sentence in the English language which means that they agreed with some things said but didn't agree with others, and want to focus on the disagreements. Where did your rule about not using "some" after negation come from?
    – YonKuma
    Commented Feb 8 at 19:47
  • 3
    "As far as I know, "some" can't be used after negation" —Can you tell more about where you got this idea? The simplest answer right now is that that advice is wrong. But if you can tell more about where you found it, maybe we can talk about contexts in which it makes sense. Commented Feb 8 at 20:09
  • 1
    Oh! Maybe it means a context like "There aren't some dishes on the table." Waiting with interest, voting to close in the meantime. Commented Feb 8 at 20:11
  • 3
    They may be referring to this text from the Cambridge Dictionary Online: "We don’t use weak form some on its own in negative statements. We use any" (emphasis mine). If that's the case, this is neither the weak form of "some", nor is it on its own.
    – YonKuma
    Commented Feb 8 at 20:22
  • 2
    I think this is a very interesting question. As a native English speaker I know intuitively when to use some/any but I’d be interested in an answer that explains why one is grammatical over the other.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Feb 8 at 22:43

2 Answers 2


"Some" is defined as "an unspecified amount or number of".

Amounts and numbers are different. Amounts can be non-countable quantities - for example, you can have an 'amount of water'. Numbers are always countable - for example, a number of people. So, 'some' is used in two different ways.

Your example using "some of the meat" is a non-countable quantity, and you are partially correct - we would often say "he didn't eat all of the meat".

But in the example in question, there were clearly definable - countable - points spoken about, some of which were agreed with, some of which were not. If you can clearly define which were which, they are countable. There is no issue with using "some" when you can define what it refers to.

In fact, your example of meat could be used with 'some' without issue if you could define what parts of the meat you were referring to, or if there were different kinds of meat that were not eaten. For example, "I didn't eat some of the meat because it was too chewy" means that you didn't eat the chewy parts.

  • 1
    Why do you think this question is about countability? Can you tie your answer back to the question to demonstrate why sentence (1) is correct despite the commonly taught rule that we use "any" with negations and "some" with affirmative statements?
    – gotube
    Commented Feb 9 at 21:53
  • 1
    @gotube The short answer to "can you use 'some' after a negation' is yes. All of the examples where it seems wrong, causes ambiguity etc involve non-count nouns. I see that the question has been edited, but I'm not interested in constantly editing my answers to keep up with questions; it could easily become my life's work.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Feb 10 at 11:01
  • The OP's question is "Why...", not a yes/no. The OP's sentence (1) is countable ("some of the things"), so countability isn't a factor here. I think you might be on to something with the ability to define "some", along the lines of YonKuma's comment-answer, but I don't see how this answer as written would help a learner to know when it's acceptable to use "some" in a negation and when not. The edits only clarified the question. The underlying question is the same.
    – gotube
    Commented Feb 11 at 8:16

When some means "an indefinite quantity or amount", it is usually replaced by any in a negative context, and often in an interrogative context:

I've got some food here.

Have you got any food there?

I haven't got any food here.

But when it means "some quantity or amount less then the whole", then it does not get replaced:

I agreed with some of the things he said (implying, not with all of them).

I didn't agree with some of the things he said (implying, not with all of them).

You can say

I didn't agree with any of the things he said

but that means specifically, that you disagreed with ''all'' of them, not just with some of them.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .