Is that true that the indefinite article can be always replaced with word "some" and it will be nearly always the same meaning?


I have bought a house = I have bought some house

I walked in the forest and have met a squirrel = I walked in the forest and have met some squirrel

The sandwich contains a cheese = The sandwich contains some cheese

Am I correct?

  • This question and its answer deals with null-some-a/an-the-zero articles. 'Some' is in the 'spectrum' of English articles as documented by Peter Masters – Nigel J Mar 13 '18 at 15:21

Yes, that's correct - or at least I can't think of a way it's not. The "some" you are referring to is the some that is used to define some unspecified or unknown thing. It is not the quantitative use of the word. It sounds a little dorky sometimes, but it definitely works.

It even works in this wack sentence because of how lot can be defined: I don't like a lot of people - I don't like some lot of people

Your second example is a bit odd. It should read more like: "I walked in the forest and met a/some squirrel." This is not dependent on changing "a" to "some", it just doesn't make sense grammatically to use it that way because the first action of walking is in the past tense whereas the second action of meeting the squirrel is in present tense. It could also be "I met a squirrel when I walked in the forest", or "While walking in the forest I met a squirrel".

  • Thanks! And what about the third one: "The sandwich contains a cheese = The sandwich contains some cheese"? Is this idiomatic usage? Are these sentences equal? – aaa Mar 13 '18 at 13:24
  • Nope, it's not idiomatic. The reason "The sandwich contains a cheese" works is because "a cheese" can refer to a type of cheese. Using "a cheese" to refer to amount of cheese would be improper usage because the amount is undefined and "cheese" is not a measurement unit. Instead you would say "The sandwich contains some cheese", which can easily refer to either amount or type. – Heather Mar 13 '18 at 13:32
  • I am little bit confused: "The sandwich contains a cheese" is not an idiomatic, but still meaningful and has the same meaning as with "...some cheese"? – aaa Mar 13 '18 at 13:34
  • While you could probably construct a scenario where "The sandwich contains a cheese" is correct, it almost always sounds wrong. In the context of what you might find in a sandwich (unless you put a whole cheese between two bits of bread), cheese is an uncountable noun, so needs some not a. If you mean it contains a type of cheese, you'd either say that, or simply call it a cheese sandwich (cf. three-cheese macaroni -- a dish containing three [different] types of cheese). – TripeHound Mar 13 '18 at 13:45
  • Sorry, let me clarify. "The sandwich contains some cheese" is idiomatic to English speakers, whereas "The sandwich contains a cheese" is not. Tripe's explanation is beautiful! Ha. – Heather Mar 13 '18 at 13:45

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