Something vs anything
I’m learning Spanish. Cómo estás? Me llamo Isla. Tengo dos hijos y un perro.
That’s about the sum total of my conversational ability.
What I’m really enjoying about the lessons, aside from my wonderfully eccentric tutor Ana Maria, are the grammar pointers she gives the class.
I’ve said elsewhere in this blog, I wasn’t taught grammar at school. Knowing what is right and wrong came organically through reading many, many books.
(Ana Maria has to give grammar pointers in English precisely because none of us understands our own language, and we have to be able to before we can understand Spanish. Rolls eyes emoji.)
I am always fascinated when Ana Maria names and explains a rule I knew but didn’t know I knew.
My latest favourite: when we use “something” or “anything”*.
I hadn’t ever paid the blindest bit of notice to when or why I say “something” or “anything” but, when you think about it, there are definitely contexts that require one over the other.
As Ana Maria explained: “If we have been for a hike, and you come back to my house, I might say, ‘Do you want something to eat?’ The assumption is that you will answer yes. The assumption is that you are hungry and will want something.
“If I say, ‘Do you want anything to eat?’ I am open to the fact you will say no.”
The implications of this rule blew. me. away.
I had never thought about it like that!
Generally, in English we use “something” in a positive sentence or expecting a positive response; but we use “anything” either in more negative sentences or not assuming there will be a positive response.
“I got something lovely for my birthday”
“I haven’t eaten anything”.
Have a think about this. Isn’t it great?
* We needed to learn this because Spanish does not use the word “anything” (or “any” or “anyone”). Depending on the context of “anything” in an English sentence, Spanish would use “something” or “nothing”.
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