any or some

Do you want [color=red]any sugur in your coffee?

Why can’t [color=red]“some” be used here?


Yes we can. Do you want any sugur in your coffee? = The questioner lets the question be open or neutral: the drinker may or may not want sugar in her coffee. Do you want some sugur in your coffee? = He asks with a guess: she is likely to want some sugar in her coffee.

The word, however, is spelt ‘sugar’.

Thanks MM, my bad. :stuck_out_tongue:

Do you want … sugar in your coffee?

(a) some
(b) much
© any
(d) little

Then why is “any” the only correct answer to this question?

If it is so, then the exam question was falsely devised.

Not only are ‘any’ and ‘some’ correct as possible answers, but ‘much’ could also be considered a right answer:

Do you want much sugar in your coffee (or only a small amount)?
It may not be a very polite way of putting the question, but that doesn’t make it incorrect!

The only impossible answer is ‘little’ as it would require an indefinite article.
Do you want a little sugar in your coffee.

Hi S&S,

This is a favourite topic that has been aired several times over the years on this site. In ordinary conversation we would ask: Do you want sugar in your coffee? If we had to choose a partitive article, it would be ‘any’ in my opinion. ‘Some’ doesn’t work here for me because we are talking about a small addition to the coffee rather than a quantity of something as a complement. ‘Much’ is also inappropriate mainly because this is usually reserved for negative sentences and it could also be construed as suggesting that the coffee drinker wants a lot of sugar!


‘Some’ has two functions in English (in fact, they may be heteronyms, not a single word).

‘Some’ /sʌm/ is a quantifier meaning an unspecified number or amount: Some people are kind; others are not.
‘Some’ /səm or sᵊm/ has been called the plural indefinite article: Would you like some watermelon/cherries? (Not ‘Would you like watermelon/cherries’)

This 2nd word is the one that appears in the question.

Why not" would you like watermelon?"

How come we can say “Do you want sugar in your coffee” but not “Would you like watermelon” ?

What about “Would you like water ?”


You can say those, as Alan has already pointed out, but many or most native speakers will use the plural indefinite article in conversation.

Hi S&S,

The reason is that ‘Would you like watermelon?’ or 'Would you like water? is quite ambiguous and thus unnatural a question here. Possibly,
(1) ‘Would you like water?’ = ‘Would you like to drink some water now?’
(2) ‘Would you like water?’ = ‘Would you be fond of water (the substance)?’

Cf. Would you like (the) water? I bet you would. The liquid will show you a beautiful picture of atomic corelation between hydrogen and oxygen.

So, when you ask someone if he wants something to eat or drink (now), you’d better put “some” or “any” before the object to make it sound natural.

Cf. Would you like some coffee?


P.S. I also agree with Beees that ‘much’ is not necessarily incorrect for the question if he does assume or know she likes her coffee with a lot of sugar.