As I know some is used for positive sentences and any for negative as well as question forms. But what about negative questions?

Why didn't you buy any cheese?


Why didn't you buy some cheese?

  • Because some is also used when the question is polite or a request, using shall, can, could or would.
    – Schwale
    Jan 30 '16 at 13:34
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    @Ustanak - Can you expand on that? I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say. I would have said that the use of some or any depends more on whether we're talking about a count or a noncount noun than whether it's a request or not. If we're asking someone about apples (a count noun), either "Didn't you buy some apples?" or "Didn't you buy any apples?" is correct, although I think they have slightly different shades of meaning.
    – stangdon
    Jan 30 '16 at 13:44
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    @stangdon Yes, I forgot to mention the thing about countable and uncountable nouns. As you've pointed out, they have different shades of meaning.
    – Schwale
    Jan 30 '16 at 13:46
  • The sentence doesn't indicate a request or offer. You should use "any", not some.
    – Khan
    Jan 30 '16 at 18:15
  • @stangdon: I'm afraid I don't quite get your comment about countable and uncountable nouns. Is "Did you buy some apples?" wrong to you? How about "Do you want some nuts?" or "Would you like some grapes?"? I'm not sure these should be considered wrong, though I definitely agree it has a different shade of meaning compare to the versions using "any".
    – user21820
    Feb 21 '16 at 10:47

some - an ​amount or ​number of something that is not ​stated or not ​known

any - even the ​smallest ​amount or ​number of

Insert these definitions into the sentences, we get:

Why didn't you buy any cheese?

Why didn't you buy even the smallest amount of cheese?


Why didn't you buy some cheese?

Why didn't you by an unstated amount of cheese?

The expanded some version makes sense, but the meaning of the any version is exactly right.


What I would like to mention is based on standard English and I'm not talking about any other specific dialect.

We use some in questions when we expect or encourage the answer "yes" e.g. you see your friend rubbing his eye. You say,

What's wrong? Have you got something in your eye?

The same reasoning can be used for requests, or offers since we expect the person to give a "yes" answer as in

would you like some tea?

In other cases, we use any. So if I see this question in a grammar test, I'd go with 'any' not because it's a negative question but because it's a question that doesn't expect an affirmative answer.

We can have a negative question that expects a positive answer as in

Wouldn't you like some cookies?

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