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Some

Some is a determiner and a pronoun.

Some as a determiner

We use some before nouns to refer to indefinite quantities. Although the quantity is not important or not defined, using some implies a limited quantity:

Can you get me some milk? (The quantity isn’t specified. Some suggests a normal amount, not an unlimited amount. Compare: Can you get me five litres of milk?)

I’ve got some questions for you.

There are elephants in Africa and Asia. (The number is not limited.)

Not: There are some elephants in Africa and Asia.

Some as a determiner has two forms: a weak form and a strong form. The forms have different meanings.

Weak form some /səm/

We use the weak form of some in affirmative sentences and in questions (usually expecting the answer ‘yes’), when the quantity is indefinite or not important (we use any in questions and negative sentences):

I’ve got some /səm/ water.

Have you got some water? (expecting the answer yes)

Have you got any water? (open yes-no question)

I haven’t got any water. (negative)

We use the weak form of some only with uncountable nouns and plural nouns:

I’m looking for some advice. (+ uncountable noun)

Do you need some help? (+ uncountable noun)

We need to make some changes to the programme. (+ plural noun)

There are a lot of advantages in doing the course online, but there are some disadvantages too. (+ plural noun)

Warning:

We don’t use weak form some with singular countable nouns:

If you’re looking for a book to read, I can recommend ‘Animal Farm’.

Not: If you’re looking for some book to read

Strong form some /sʌm/

The strong form of some is stressed. This form contrasts with others or all or enough:

Why do some people live longer than other people? (some, not others)

Some boys went to the front of the stage to get a better view. The rest of us couldn’t see a thing. (some, not all)

There were some cakes left but not enough for everyone. (some, but not enough)

I’m not keen on some types of fish. I find plaice a bit tasteless.

We can use this strong form to refer to someone or something particular but unknown, especially with singular countable nouns:

There must be some way of opening this printer!

Some idiot driver crashed into the back of me.

Some with numbers

We use the strong form of some with numbers. It can suggest an unexpectedly high amount:

Some £30 billion was needed to rebuild the hospital.

Some 60% of the course is devoted to design.

Leaving out some

We don’t use some when we are talking about things or people in general, when we have no idea of number or quantity:

Rats make good pets. (rats in general)

There were some rats in the kitchen. (a number of rats)

Does your car run on petrol or diesel? (general)

I need some petrol. (specific petrol for my car)

We don’t use some for large or unlimited quantities and amounts:

The earthquake victims urgently need tents, blankets and water.

Not: … some tents, some blankets and some water.

Some as a pronoun

We use some as a pronoun (i.e. without a noun following) when the noun is understood:

If you need any money, I’ll lend you some.

French mustards are usually flavoured with spices. Some have added sugar. Some are quite salty.

Some of

Warning:

We use some with of before the, demonstratives (this, that), pronouns (you, us) or possessives (my, your). We use some of to refer to a part of a whole:

I wasn’t sure about some of the answers.

It was great to meet some of her friends and colleagues.

Not: … some her friends

[from a TV news programme]

First a look at some of today’s main stories in some more detail.

Some: typical errors

  • We don’t use weak form some with singular countable nouns:

In the reception area we found a brochure about the history of the house.

Not: … we found some brochure

  • We use some, not a or an, before uncountable nouns:

Do you need some overnight accommodation?

Not: … an overnight accommodation?

  • We don’t use weak form some on its own in negative statements. We use any:

A:

Did you get the eggs?

B:

No, there weren’t any.

Not: No, there weren’t some.

  • We don’t use some to mean a few when we are referring to units of time:

I’m looking for someone to help me for a few days.

Not: … to help me for some days.

(“Some” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press.)

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