What does the expression "in some ways" exactly mean, as in

The English language is limited in some ways, and perhaps most limited in its ability to express love.

Is it generic (like in many ways) or specific (like in a few ways)? Can you give an example of an equivalent expression?

  • 1
    I guess it means "somehow", as far as it's not clear how it is limited and where.
    – user8568
    Commented May 20, 2011 at 20:13
  • The reason this question is causing so much confusion: you asked "what it means." It doesn't "MEAN" anything. Rather, it is an extremely well-known and obvious softening qualifier in English. It's that simple. There is a lot of confusion below regarding a search for an "equivalent" and so on. There's no "equivalent," just as there's no "equivalent" of "Ummm..." or "John Smith". You've thrown a hammer in the works by asking what it means ("exactly") rather than asking what type of phrase is this? Indeed, it's an interjection or softening qualifier. Super-simple.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 21:45
  • @Joe: certainly not super-simple, as evinced by the fact two schools of thought have arisen already. It may be simple confusion: in some way is not the same as in some ways Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 22:11

6 Answers 6


I have to disagree with the answers above; often, and definitely in the above example, the phrase has a literal meaning, namely that the English language is limited in this way (expressing love), and in other ways (perhaps in swearing), but generally it is useful and flexible. 'In some way', on the other hand, would mean it is limited in one way, unspecified and perhaps unknown.

  • I tend to agree with you, and this is why I haven't chosen a correct answer yet. I think there is a big difference between "in some way" (= "somehow") and "in some ways" (which is what I'm asking about).
    – raphink
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 8:50
  • I agree. Somehow is specific to something singular or something abstract.
    – ghoppe
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 19:03

It is an expression meaning only "in certain instances", and therefore in the above example, the English language is limited "only in certain instances". This is a specific limitation.
Other uses include : "The X45 engine was not as good in some ways as the X44 engine."


It is always generic.

@Boob is right, "somehow" will be one of the best equivalent expressions.


I think rather than somehow a better single word equivalent would be somewhat.

The English language is somewhat limited, and perhaps most limited in its ability to express love.

I disagree that "in some ways" means something generic. If the writer really meant "in many ways" that's the phrasing they would have used. "Some" is closer in meaning to "a few" than to "many".


It literally means "there are ways in which, and there is more than one, but those ways are not the most salient case".

So, "English is limited in some ways" means much the same as "English has certain defects, without being defective overall." By contrast, "He is a good actor in some [or, 'many'] ways" is rather faint praise.


The phrase essentially means "partly, but not completely." If you say that English is limited in some ways, that means that English is partly limited, i.e., in certain circumstances, but that it is not completely limited in every facet of its use.

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