# Can I use “some” as a synonym of “very”?

I heard some used unusually a few times. Based on context, I figured that the meaning of some in that sentences was very.

However, I'm not sure. Can I really use some as a synonym of very?

Here are some examples, starting with stuff.

This is some good stuff = this is very good stuff

With work:

This is some good work = this is a very good work

With news:

This is some good news = this is very good news

• Note that you need to stress the word some if you want to use this meaning in speech. I think this means you can construct sentences which have three different meanings depending on three possible levels of stress on some. That's some interesting linguistics. – Peter Shor Apr 24 '16 at 16:10
• In Nova Scotia, Canada, there is (used to be) a spoken use of some that could mean very but more often meant quite. One would hear 'It's some cold.' or perhaps (of a meal) 'It's some good.' and occasionally 'She was some mad.'. – Icy Apr 24 '16 at 16:31
• You can, kind of, as some of the answers point out, but none of your sentences are examples of that. – hobbs Apr 25 '16 at 4:20
• To expand on the comment by @hobbs: In all these examples, I would interpret 'some' as an adjective modifying the noun rather than as an adverb modifying 'good'. It's a quantifier here, but an informal and ill-defined quantifier in the context. As such I read it as a filler word that adds very little meaning & I suspect it was chosen to alter the cadence or as a colloquialism. – Timbo Apr 25 '16 at 19:32
• In none of those examples would I equate "some" with "very". It wouldn't be unusual for someone to say "this is some very good work" - "very" is modifying the word "good", while "some" is defining a set (work/news/etc) – HorusKol Apr 26 '16 at 3:02

If 'some' is the only modifier attached to a singular noun, it probably will be understood as an adjective meaning 'extraordinary' or 'remarkable', with an implied a/an. To me, this seems like the most obvious reading of the example in Cathy Gartaganis's answer, 'That's some woman!'

The exclamation mark confirms it further, because the other possibility is a disinterested 'That's some woman [or other].'

On the other hand, in the OP examples, without the emphasis of speech I think the focus is on the true ajective 'good'. 'Some' sounds like an expression of quantity in all three cases.

• I almost downvoted this, but "without the emphasis of speech" saved it. – DCShannon Apr 25 '16 at 20:06

Not really. Some, as defined by the American Heritage dictionary 5th edition means "remarkable." In the cases you've given, "some" means an unspecified amount. In your sentence "This is some good stuff." it could be argued that "some" means remarkable (hard to know in print) but "some" cannot be exchanged with very because very would be intensifying or modifying "good" in a way that "some" doesn't. "Some" isn't used to make "good" even better -- very does that job.

For example, "That's some boss you've got." some means remarkable. Very wouldn't work as it's usually used as an adverb or as an adjective, as in "the very best."

• "'Some' isn't used to make 'good' even better -- very does that job." The entire province of Nova Scotia would disagree with you quite vehemently. And "some" can be intensified further by using "right some". It's regional and informal, but it's also proper in the dialects that use it. – bye Apr 24 '16 at 21:00
• I might interpret (depending on context) "That's some boss you've got" (with "boss" emphasised) as being any of the three "Your boss is terrible", "Your boss is remarkable", or "Your boss is really good looking"... – cypher Apr 25 '16 at 10:05
• @cypher I don't understand your point. – michael_timofeev Apr 25 '16 at 10:07
• @michael_timofeev nothing that makes "some" synonymous to "very", I'm just pointing out the meaning of "some" isn't necessarily restricted to "remarkable" in that sentence, or in many cases (and I might add if used as the last meaning it's just about cringeworthy :P). – cypher Apr 25 '16 at 10:12
• @cypher ok...wasn't sure what you meant but now I understand. – michael_timofeev Apr 25 '16 at 10:15

Yes, it can be said in informal English. It can replace 'a very nice': That's some woman!

A statement with 'some' might have clarification. In the case of a woman, you'd list her attributes. If you say, That's some fish! , you might be referring to the size or the taste, depending on the circumstances.

'some' can also have a negative connotation. Some friend you are! You never help!

• Worth noting that referring to a woman in such a manner would probably be considered rude or at least uncouth/disrespectful. (I could see perhaps, "She's/You're some woman!" on the heels of some impressive act being a compliment, but I think there would still be risk of offense.) – jpmc26 Apr 25 '16 at 1:05
• @jpmc26 I'm Canadian, and I'd definitiely use it as a compliment, meaning an awesome woman in every respect. – Cathy Gartaganis Apr 25 '16 at 4:22
• This is some answer! (I mean that as a compliment.) Mostly, though, I liked the way you say that it can be used positively or negatively. Consider: Her brother just got paroled for the third time. He is some brother! That's a put-down, but: Her sister just graduated cum laude from Cal Tech. She's some sister! That's intended as a compliment, much in the way Charlotte used the word. – J.R. Apr 25 '16 at 19:36
• Or, more famously, "That's some pig!" – hatchet - Reinstate Monica Apr 25 '16 at 22:36
• @NickGammon Correct, which is why I clarified that 'some' can replace 'a very nice'. – Cathy Gartaganis Apr 26 '16 at 5:40

You can, but I would definitely avoid it in written language.

In spoken language, depending on the inflection I use I could say:

"That is some good work" - to mean:

1. You've learned some new task well and I think you're ready to move on to learning the next thing.
2. Although some of what you did is good, most of it is unacceptable.
3. Wow, I'm really impressed. That's very good.

Given that the inflection can't come across in writing, I'd avoid this since it could be interpreted as a compliment or an insult.

• I think that only in sense 2 does "That is some good work" meaningfully differ from "That is good work". I would expect this sentence used in sense 2 to be further qualifed, e.g. by immediately following with "but the rest needs to be redone." – Timbo Apr 25 '16 at 19:36

Yes they can be used interchangeably sometimes. Like here for instance:

That is some shirt you got on!

or

That is a very nice shirt you are wearing!

• "That is some shirt" -> "That is a peculiar shirt". – GEdgar Apr 24 '16 at 16:48
• Yep, "some shirt" would be taken by most to mean "unusual shirt". Not necessarily a complement. – Hot Licks Apr 25 '16 at 12:02
• Your example compares "some" with "very nice", not with "very" by itself. Although I agree that "some" might be taken as you describe under certain circumstances, that's not what the OP asked about. – PellMel Apr 25 '16 at 15:30
• @HotLicks - But it could be a compliment. No way to say for sure, though, without hearing the intonation, and perhaps seeing the looks of envy. – J.R. Apr 25 '16 at 19:38
• @J.R. - My T-shirts don't usually elicit looks of envy. – Hot Licks Apr 25 '16 at 19:47

Yes you can, but only when speaking because it requires that you emphasize the word "some". If you fail to emphasize the word "some" the additional meaning of "some very good" may be lost.

The principle is the use of an understatement, a form of irony where the words themselves deliberately do not convey the intensity of your meaning.

This is SOME good work!

meaning "this is (some very good) work." (note that I have deleted the superfluous "a")

The same idiom exists in spanish:

Un PEDAZO de trabajo!

Literally, "a piece of work", but with the correct emphasis, "a GREAT piece of work."

Some can mean some quantity of or some particular example of or some kind of.

So "That's some cheese" can mean either "That's a quantity of cheese", or "that's a type of cheese" or "that's a special cheese". Context will tell you which.

• What's that in the fridge? That's some cheese.
• What's that smell? That's some cheese!

Or

• Knocking on the door? Some man.
• Climbing Everest with a teaspoon? Some man!

In addition to the other answers, if you use it in the (informal) expression "...and then some", it can be used as an intensifier similar to "very", meaning "and plenty more than that".

This is good stuff, and then some! ≈ This is very good stuff!
This is good work, and then some! ≈ This is very good work!
This is good news, and then some! ≈ This is very good news!


I think all three are possible, although I personally would only be likely to use these in informal conversation where the context is clear.