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ESL forum > Ask for help > grammar    



Hi everybody, Yesterday a student of mine who is really into football told me about a football team she is a great fan of. Since I had never heard of them - football is not to my liking - I asked her: Are they any good? The point is that she asked me the reason why I used "any" in the question. Could you shed light on how I could explain it to her? I am also working on a paraphrasing worksheet for my advanced students. It�s about modal verbs. I would like to add some sentences so that they have to use the estructures: may / might as well; may / might / could well / conceivably / possibly. The problem is that I can�t think of many natural contexts in which such expressions could be used. Thanks in advanced.

5 Nov 2019      

United Kingdom

When modifying an adjective like good,any is an adverb of degree (to determine whether some property or characteristic is greater or less than would be considered typical). Its the equivalent of at all.
As for finding "natural contexts" for your modals, why dont you have a look at some of the available text corpora such as the British National Corpus (BNC) or the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA)? Youll find the modals youre after in authentic contexts (concordances).

5 Nov 2019     

United States

To add to Alexs answer, we use "any" in questions when we expect a negative answer, or dont know what kind of answer to expect. With that in mind, "Are they any good?" can be mildly insulting as compared to the neutral "Are they good?". However, this particular question usually doesnt have a negative connotation, and is the most common way of asking about the quality of something.
In contrast, if your friend bought something advertised on television, you might ask, "Is it any good?", definitely meaning to imply that you dont expect it to be very good. That implication is avoided if you ask, "Is it good?".

5 Nov 2019     


Thanks a lot for your clear explanations and help. Have a nice weekend!

9 Nov 2019