The following is an exercise I came across in one of the textbooks.
The answer key says the correct answer is "some", but "any" seems to work.
Any comment?

The noise outside prevented me from having (a, some, a few, any) sleep.

Original Post
I believe both "some" and "any" are possible, but I'd much prefer "any".

Generally we use "some" in positive (or affirmative ) sentences, in offers, and in requests....typically when we expect a "yes" reply.

"Any" is used in questions and negatives, or when negativity is implied. Here's where "any" comes into play in your example. The word "prevented" expresses negativity, and seems to then require "any" in the sentence. Another way of analyzing it:

I was not able to get any sleep last night due to...

Last edited by maple
Thanks to Rob for such a succinct, clear answer. Here's a bit more:

The correct answer should have been "any." The verb "prevent" belongs to a class of verbs that, despite not being grammatically negated with "not," are still negative in meaning.

This class of verbs is variously called "morphologically negative" or "negative in import,"* or "covertly negative."**

Other such verbs include

I. Verbs that take "from" with or without a direct object:


"” We were prohibited from taking any meat products across the border

"” You must abstain from eating or drinking anything after midnight

"” Only my good manners stopped me from telling him exactly what I thought of him

II. Verbs that take a negative determiner before a direct object:


"” The candidate denied any knowledge of the secret meeting

"” The manager opposes any increase in overtime pay for workers

"” You must be careful to avoid any mention of your first marriage

The correct answer in the textbook should have been

"The noise outside prevented me from having ANY sleep"

There's an exception when the direct object of the -ing phrase is specific in nature:

"” The noise prevented me from finishing SOME reports that I was supposed to hand in the next day

"” They tried to hinder the reporters from talking to SOME miners who were protesting outside the mine


*Quirk et al., A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Longman, 1985), pp. 784-85

** Huddleston and Pullum, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (2002), pp. 835-36

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