some = a number of/some but not all

taraa

Senior Member
Persian
The following is from Murphy's English Grammar in Use. How shoud we know "some" mean "a number of / a few of / a pair of" or "some but not all"?
Can "some" in "Some friends of mine are coming to stay at the weekend." mean "some but not all"?

"You can use some with plural countable nouns. We use some in two ways.
(1) some = a number of / a few of / a pair of
"Some friends of mine are coming to stay at the weekend."
(2) some = some but not all
"Some children learn very quickly. (but not all children)"
 
  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I would not use "some" to mean "two" or "a pair". In that case I would refer to "two" or "a pair", and not "some". For me, "some" implies more than two; I am reluctant to use if for just three also.

    If you have more than three friends, then you can say "some of your friends are coming".

    Some of my friends are coming to dinner.
    A few of my friends are coming for dinner.
    Two of my friends are coming for dinner.
    Three of my friends are coming for dinner.
     

    grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    You can probably deduce from sentence 1 that the person has other friends who are not coming to stay at the weekend but this is not the information the person wants to emphasize. What's most important there is that a few of the person's friends are going to stay at the weekend.

    (cross-posted)
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Where the speaker knows the true number, then "some" means more than one, but not all. This is the meaning in sentence (1). Unlike Packard, I would have no hesitation in using "some" where the number was two. Saying "two" sounds too precise for most situations, and "a couple of" is far longer than "some".

    Where the speaker does not know the true number, then "some" could include "all", and if a countable noun is involved, then "some" could include "one". However, in your sentence (2) the implication is that "all" is not included.
     

    The pianist

    Senior Member
    English - US
    With, of course, the exception that:

    "Some child (as yet unidentified) threw a rock through my window."
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thank you all so much!


    I would not use "some" to mean "two" or "a pair". In that case I would refer to "two" or "a pair", and not "some". For me, "some" implies more than two; I am r
    (cross-posted)
    With, of course, the exception that:

    "Some child (as yet unidentified) threw a rock through my window."
    When "some"="a", Can you please explain its difference with "a"? Why don't we say "a child" but say "some child"?

    Where the speaker knows the true number, then "some" means more than one, but not all. This is the meaning in sentence (1). Unlike Packard, I would have no hesitation in using "some" where the number was two. Saying "two" sounds too precise for most situations, and "a couple of" is far longer than "some".

    Where the speaker does not know the true number, then "some" could include "all", and if a countable noun is involved, then "some" could include "one". However, in your sentence (2) the implication is that "all" is not included.
    In the sentence (2), why can't "some" mean "all", please?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    When "some"="a", Can you please explain its difference with "a"? Why don't we say "a child" but say "some child"?
    "Some" with a singular countable noun usually means that their identity is unknown, which "a" does not make clear.
    In the sentence (2), why can't "some" mean "all", please?
    The writer is assumed to have some knowledge of the subject, and probably knows of at least one child who doesn't learn very quickly, so they will know that "all" is excluded. If they don't know of a single child who does not learn very quickly, then they would almost certainly not have chosen "some", but would have used "many" or "most", and may well have included "possibly all".

    In a different situation, it might be clear the writer or speaker has no knowledge of how many are involved:
    That accident looked horrific. I expect some of the people in the car died.​
    In this sentence "some" could well include "all".
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    "Some" with a singular countable noun usually means that their identity is unknown, which "a" does not make clear.

    The writer is assumed to have some knowledge of the subject, and probably knows of at least one child who doesn't learn very quickly, so they will know that "all" is excluded. If they don't know of a single child who does not learn very quickly, then they would almost certainly not have chosen "some", but would have used "many" or "most", and may well have included "possibly all".

    In a different situation, it might be clear the writer or speaker has no knowledge of how many are involved:
    That accident looked horrific. I expect some of the people in the car died.​
    In this sentence "some" could well include "all".
    Thanks a lot Uncle Jack for the good explanations!
     
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