Unit 51: A/ AN/ SOME/ ANY (MP3)

We can use these words at the beginning of a noun phrase (Unit 45). We use a/ an for singular nouns (a plate/ an apple) and some/ any for plurals and mass nouns (some plates/ any fruit) (Unit 56).

A or an

use an if the next word begins with a, e, i, o, u:
an aunt, an exam, an idea, an old man, an uncle

BUT if we say u as in you:
a university, a used car

Use a if the next word begins with any other letter:
a cousin, a test, a thought, a young man, a boat

BUT if h is silent:
an hour, an honest man

Some or any

Use some in affirmative sentences:
He's got some news. (Unit 5)

Use any in negative sentences:
I haven't got any news. (Unit 5)

We normally use any in questions (BUT look at Unit 9).


When we are talking about a noun for the first time and we do not understand which:

There is a man at the door.
But I don't know who he is.

She bought some oranges.
I don't know which oranges.

She didn't buy any apples.

A bottle of water, please.
NOT one bottle; (Unit 59)

Also for these words of quantity:

a few, a little, a lot of, a pair, a hundred, a thousand, a million

and for rates:

forty kilometres an hour (NOT the hour), eighty cents a pound

NOTICE: a/ an/ some/ any or the or nothing? (Unit 54)

something/ anything = a thing
somewhere/ anywhere = a place
someone/ anyone/ somebody/ anybody = a person

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Exercise 51.1
Exercise 51.2
Exercise 51.3