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After reading "Is everyone" singular or plural?", I would refrain from asking this question, but the husband of a colleague of mine (English professor, native speaker of British English) stated against it, so I am looking for further enlightenment.

He advocates some should be solely used to refer to plural forms. Thus,

some non-existent towns

is perfectly correct, but

some non-existent town

should be replaced by

a non-existent town

Is that true?

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Do you reject “some rice” too ? –  Nicolas Barbulesco Jun 23 at 19:31
    
@Nicolas: I’m sure that, if pressed, the professor would say, “Some should be solely used to refer to plural or collective/uncountable forms, but not singular forms.” –  Scott Jun 23 at 20:02
    

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Some indeed can be use in this general sense.

If you visit OneLook, you'll see several meanings of the word some. One of them reads:

some used for referring to a person or thing without knowing or without saying exactly which one

So, saying:

We'll go to some beach tomorrow.

We'll stop at some restaurant on the way home.

are both perfectly acceptable. As a matter of fact, if you made the noun plural:

We'll stop at some restaurants on the way home.

That would imply that we are stopping at more than one restaurant.

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1  
"Some" emphasizes the indefiniteness over your friend's recommendation of "a". If you say, "Some friend of Bob called me today", it conveys that you don't know who this person was or don't want to say. But "A friend of Bob called me today" doesn't have that connotation -- the friend is not mysterious or unknown. –  Jay Mar 9 '12 at 15:04
    
Some can also emphasise indefiniteness in the plural. "I met a few people in town today". "Which people?". "Oh, just some guys". –  FumbleFingers Mar 9 '12 at 21:54
1  
@Jay Wouldn't that be "Some friend of Bob's called me today"? –  Tucker Apr 22 at 12:38
1  
"Of Bob" indicates a possessive. I think "of Bob's" is redundant -- you're indicating the possessive with "of" and then again with the apostrophe-s. People often say that, and I don't suppose it creates ambiguity, but I think it's unnecessary. –  Jay Apr 22 at 13:04
    
@Jay — Are you a native english speaker ? Your reasoning is refreshing. This is the first time I hear a defence against this really weird phrase “a friend of mine”. –  Nicolas Barbulesco Jun 23 at 19:36

You're right, he's right, they're right, everyone's right.

Just incomplete. No one has mentioned the important detail.

"A non-existent town" - CORRECT "Some non-existent town" - INFORMAL

That's all there is to it.

"Some" is being used EXACTLY the way "a" is supposed to be used. You can't use "some" in this way in proper speech or writing. It in formal, stressing the indefiniteness. For further emphasis (almost to the point of being silly), we may also say "Some random non-existent town."

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Some is used to refer to a particular person or thing without stating which. For example,

Some customer called yesterday.

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