Disclaimer: I'm a German native.

I'm working on some software with a coworker from US. He just sent a message saying "if we decide to actually publish this as a real package, I'd like to clean it up some".

My German-inspired way of expressing this would have been "clean it up a bit" and this phrase was a surprise.

But since he's American, I thought I'd rather go here for some sound advice on good English.

Is "clean up some" more colloquial or would it also be used in written texts etc.?

  • 1
    Using "some" instead of "a bit" in this context is rather informal, but in other contexts "a bit of cheese/some cheese" it can be similarly formal (although "some" is usually, but not necessarily, a greater quantity than "a bit")
    – Esther
    Jun 21 at 16:35
  • 2
    Some can equal a bit (10%) or can mean more (90%). I wouldn't use a bit to mean 'maybe a lot'. Jun 21 at 16:36
  • 1
    I think that's right. It seems to me (a very non-native German speaker) that it's much the same as the difference between ein Bisschen and etwas, in the same context. Etwas can cover a lot of ground without being ironic. Jun 21 at 16:39
  • 3
    "Clean it up some" is more colloquial in AmE than in BrE. In BrE we are masters of the understatement and 'a bit' can mean 'a lot'. Jun 21 at 17:12
  • 1
    My spouse is German and I was raised, and live in, the US. I give you license to continue using "a bit." And note that "clean it up some" sounds a little weird to me -- I'd expect "do some clean-up [of the code]" if "some" is chosen. But it's so common to find incomplete editing in emails. So, for an email, it's fine -- at least I understood what your colleague was trying to say. Jun 21 at 19:29


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