Numerous Russian words for 'something'

There are numerous Russian words translated to English as "something", including "нечто", "что-то", "что-нибудь", "кое-что", and "что-либо". What is the difference? How should I decide which one to pick?

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dominic | 0 points - about 5 years ago

In short, что-то means "something, and I don’t know what."
Нечто is very close to что-то, but it’s "something, and nobody knows what."
Кое-что means "something, and I know but I’m not telling what." (I bought you something as a gift, but it’s a surprise – Я купил тебе кое-что в качестве подарка, но это сюрприз)
Что-нибудь means "something, and I don’t care what." It has to refer to possibilities; it cannot refer to real things. Just do something! – Сделай уже что-нибудь!
Что-либо is close in meaning to что-нибудь but they are not always interchangeable. I would translate что-либо as "something, and it doesn’t matter exactly what, but of a defined set." You would find -либо more often in past contexts and -нибудь more often in future ones.

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quinton.gutkowski | 0 points - about 5 years ago

The words “что-нибудь” and “что-либо” are usually used in questions. For example, “Вы можете сказать что-либо по этой теме?”

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deanna | 0 points - about 5 years ago

In a nutshell - it all depends on a context

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