miércoles, 14 de mayo de 2014

Some and Any

Some and Any

We use some and any with uncountable nouns and plural nouns. The general rule is that you use "some" in positive sentences and "any" in negative sentences and questions.

"I have some ideas."
"I don't have any ideas."
"Do you have any ideas?"
However, we can also use "some" in questions.
"Would you like some tea?" (I expect the answer to be "Yes".)

When we use some in a question, we limit what we are offering the other person.
For example, "Can I get you something to drink? – Coffee, or tea?" means I am offering you a limited choice of things to drink.

When we use "any" in a question, we are not limiting the choice.
For example, "Would you like anything to drink?" includes a whole range of things to drink.
"Do you have any questions?" (You can ask me anything you like!)
We can also use any in positive sentences which have a negative meaning. We often use "any" with "hardly", "without" or "never".

"There's hardly any petrol left in the car – we need to go to a garage."
"He went out without any money on him."
"She never has any problem understanding."
We can also use "some" and "any" at the end of a sentence, as pronouns.
"Do you need any money for the shopping?"
"It's OK, but I've already got some." (some = some money)
"Who ate all the chocolates?"
"Not me. I haven't had any." (any = any chocolates)

Compound uses of some and any

We can combine some and any with other words:

Something – anything

Somewhere – anywhere

Someone – anyone

Somebody – anybody

The rules for using these are the same as the rules for using some and any.

"I need to find somewhere to live." (positive sentence)

"Is there anywhere you would recommend?" (question)

"I didn't know anyone at the party." (negative sentence)

"Somebody at the party spilt beer on the carpet." (we're not sure who)

Definite and Indefinite Articles in English

Definite and Indefinite Articles in English

English has two types of articles: the indefinite article, and the definite article. The indefinite article is a / an, and the definite article is the. We use these articles (or no article) before nouns, and the article we choose depends on the type of noun (singular / plural / countable / uncountable) and the pronunciation of the noun.

The indefinite article

We use a / an before singular countable nouns, when we mention them for the first time.

I live in a small town.
Take an umbrella when you go out – it's raining.
We also use the indefinite article to talk about our jobs.
She's a teacher.
She's an architect.

Pronunciation rule
When the noun begins with a consonant sound, the indefinite article is "a".
a teacher
a bag
a school

When the noun begins with a vowel sound, the indefinite article is "an". You can pronounce it as /an/ or you can pronounce the /a/ sound as /uh/.

an apple
an engineer

Be careful: some words that start with the letter "e" or "u" are pronounced /ju/, so you need "an" before:
a Euro
a European country
a university

With some words that start with "h", the "h" is silent, so you need "an" before:
an hour
an honest person
an honour

a hotel
a hot day

Grammar rules
1. Singular, countable nouns must have an article. This can be the indefinite article, the definite article, or another determiner (possessive, demonstrative etc).
2. Uncountable nouns cannot have an indefinite article.
"Information" (not "an information"), "money" (not "a money") etc.

The definite article

We can use "the" before all nouns: singular or plural countable, and uncountable.
We use "the" when we talk about something for the second time, or when we talk about unique or specific things.

1. Talking about something for the second time

"I live in a small town. The town is near a large city."

2. Talking about specific things

"I like getting presents." (general)
"The presents I received for my birthday were fantastic." (Specific presents – the presents for my birthday.

3. Talking about unique things

Some things in the world are unique, and we use "the":
The sun
The earth
The moon
"Can you see the moon tonight?"
"The sun is millions of miles away from the earth."
"I like looking at the stars."

We use "the" when the country is plural.
"The People's Republic of China" (more than one people)
"The Philippines" (more than one island)
"The United Kingdom" (more than one country)
"The United States of America" (more than one state)
For other countries, we don't use an article.
France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Canada, etc.

Zero article

We have no article with plural countable nouns when we talk about general things.
"Cats are beautiful animals." (cats in general)

"British people are often polite." (British people in general)

We have no article with uncountable nouns when we talk about them in general.
"Tea is good for you." (all tea in general)
"Petrol is expensive." (all petrol in general)

But when we talk about specific examples, we use "the".
Cats are beautiful animals. The cats who live next door are Siamese. (only the cats next door – not all cats.)
English people are often polite. The English people I know are very reserved. (only the English people I know – not all English people.)
Tea is good for you. The tea I drink is high-quality.
Petrol is expensive. The petrol in Italy costs more than the petrol in Germany.

Common errors

1. You only need one article or determiner before a noun.
"My sister" (correct) "The my sister" (incorrect)
"My friend" (correct) "A my friend" (incorrect)
You don't need an article if you already have an adjective.
Green tea is good for you. (correct)
The green tea is good for you. (incorrect)

2. You can't put an indefinite article before an uncountable noun
"I'd like some information please." (correct)
"I'd like an information please." (incorrect)
If you want to say "one" (i.e. one advice) you can say "a piece of".
"I'd like a piece of advice." (correct)
"I'd like some advice." (correct)
"I'd like one advice." (incorrect)
Remember: you can use the definite article before uncountable nouns to talk about something for the second time, or a specific thing.
"I'd like some information. The information I need is about bus tickets." (talking about information for the second time)
"The information they gave me was very useful." (specific information)