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Why are you looking under the bed? Have you lost SOMETHING? I learned from text books that the pronouns something, anything, some, any, etc should be used in accordance to the sentence they refer to, i.e, if we ask a question we should say for instance "Did you do anything fun yesterday?" or in the negative form "No, I didn't do anything". I also learned that SOMETHING is used in the present tense or when it's an offer or a request where it can be used in interrogative sentences. Examples: "Would you like something to drink? (offer)" and "Can I have something to drink? (request)". If that is the rule, why is the following ecxerpt correct? "Why are you looking under the bed? Have you lost SOMETHING? As far as I'm concerned, this is neither an offer nor a request. With that said, why can't I say "Have you lost ANYTHING? It is a real question, isn't it?
Jan 30, 2016 11:59 PM
Comments · 6

... part two:


Here's another example: If your friend says that he is going to spend six months in New York, you might worry that he's going to be lonely there, so you could ask, in a concerned way 'Do you know anybody in New York?'. By 'anybody' you mean a friend, a relative, a colleague... or nobody at all. When you ask this question, you have in your mind the possibility that the answer will be 'no'. But if he implies that he does know someone there - perhaps by making a reference to who he'll be staying with - you could just check that this is true by saying 'So, do you know someone in New York?'.

'Have you lost something?' is a perfectly natural question in the circumstances. It means 'Have you lost a book?' 'Have you lost a pen?' and so on. The other person is fairly sure that you must have lost something - why else would you be looking under the bed? The speaker is just confirming that this is the case, and is expecting you to say what it is that you are looking for.

January 31, 2016
That’s a good question. Your analysis is correct, and yet, there it is with the word “anything.” Here’s my point of view: your hunch is right, it’s not exactly a real question. When you see your friend looking under the bed, it’s obvious that he has lost something, so your question is more of just a confirmation question. The situation doesn’t even have to be that obvious — when we suspect the answer is “yes,” we very often ask the question with “something” instead of "anything." I would like to suggest that the rule you cited about making an offer is just a subset of the expected affirmative answer.

Great question — I’m sure lots of learners have wondered the same thing.
January 31, 2016

I agree with Phil. I think either you or your textbook interpreted the situation far too narrowly by suggesting that we <em>only </em>use 'some' words in questions when we are offering or requesting. In fact, we can use something/someone/somewhere in <em>any </em>kind of question when we are confirming a fact as opposed to asking a completely 'open' question.


In fact, you can make an offer by saying either 'Would you like something to drink?' or 'Would you like anything to drink?'. Both questions are correct, and both are fulfilling the same function, but they are subtly different. In the first question, the person saying 'Would you like something to drink?' is presuming that the other person probably wants a drink. They don't know whether the person wants water, beer or fruit juice, which is why they say 'something' rather than naming a specific drink.In the second question, 'Would you like anything to drink?' they have in their mind the idea that the other person may not want anything to drink. 'Some' words imply a positive situation, while 'any' and 'no' words (which are mirror images of each other) imply a negative situation or the possiblity of a negative situation. You are half-expecting a 'No' answer when you say 'anything'?

January 31, 2016
Wow, SuKi really went into detail :)
February 3, 2016

Wow! Awesome!

Thank you very much Su,Ki.

January 31, 2016
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