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In the sentence:

Joe's been chasing women ever since he was young.

Why would the addition of the word some mean the same group women? Can it mean that Joe has been chasing different groups of women?

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Taken from A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum etc.)

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    "Chasing [any] women" in general makes you a Don Juan, whereas if you chase "some/certain women", you are after particular persons for a particular reason.
    – fev
    Commented May 20 at 11:31
  • @fev Thanks for your reply. But I think some is not the same as certain? What about saying people encounter some problems everyday? Does it mean people encounter the same problems?
    – Zelin
    Commented May 20 at 11:44
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    It is in this context that "some" is synonymous of "specific". In "people encounter some problems everyday", "some" is redundant.
    – fev
    Commented May 20 at 11:54
  • In this case, "some women" means the nature of the group is unspecified, but they are specific women.
    – user8356
    Commented May 20 at 21:01

1 Answer 1

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The text...

Joe's been chasing some women ever since he was young

...could have at least two different meanings. Which applies would be largely contextually determined, but #1 below (the one Quirk et al are apparently referring to) would be strongly implied by very heavy stress on some...

1: There's a specific set of women that Joe has always chased after
2: Joe's always been chasing after some woman [or other], but the particular woman he's pursuing changes from time to time

Note that #2 above is the same as...

I met some guy in the pub last night who told me [interesting fact]
He's always got some excuse for why he can't help me

...where some is a casual (often, "dismissively insulting") reference to any randomly selected woman / excuse / whatever. We tend to use singular for the second meaning, but that's not an unbreakable rule.

Effectively, if sense #2 above is intended, the only significance of including some at all is to imply contempt for the kind of women who would allow Joe to flirt with them and/or Joe's lack of discrimination when it comes to choosing potential romantic partners.

Without some, the assertion could be approving, disapproving, or neutral towards Joe's long-term philandering. Using singular some woman (often followed by ...or other) maximizes the contemptuous implication.


There's also a (very unlikely) possible implication to including (not particularly stressed) some that could be intended to mean Joe chases multiple women at the same time (together as a group, or by going out with them on perhaps different days of the week, without them knowing about each other).

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    I don't want to add more to an already overly long answer, but other native Anglophones might agree with me regarding possible interpretation of "I met some women in the pub last night who turned out to be prostitutes touting for tricks". If some is unstressed (with just a schwa for the vowel), that's probably a "neutral" reference to two or more women, who the speaker may have met one by one, or as a group. If some has a fully articulated vowel, the speaker is more likely to be implying he looks down on prostitutes (as with "I met some woman..."). Commented May 20 at 12:57
  • You couldn't come up with any example better or less offensive than some women in the pub who turned out to be prostitutes? Out of all the examples you could have chosen or created you came up with this? Nice…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 20 at 15:48
  • @Mari-LouA: It was contextually necessary for my point that the referent of some [class of people] should be a category that people are used to hearing denigrated. Obviously if you were giving the example, you could say some guys who turned out to be gigolos (which would hardly raise my hackles, but I suspect many learners would simply miss the point). It's a subtly nuanced context, and mine was the best I could come up with. You probably wouldn't want me to refer to some Muslims who turned out to be fanatics, and I doubt that would go down well either. Commented May 20 at 15:59
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    How about an example that uses "some people" and "YouTube influencers" instead? That's got similar connotations without the sexism/racism and I think influencers are the modern day equivalent of telemarketers? Anyway it targets a profession rather than a personal trait and I think that would be received better.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented May 22 at 16:00
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    @KitZ.Fox: That's certainly an interesting idea! You're the mod, so I won't argue if you decide to simply delete my first comment on the grounds of "poor taste". In which case I guess you'd need to delete all the comments, since they would no longer make sense. But it's really true that many decades ago when I was working abroad in Latvia for a few days, I was quite flattered by the attention I was getting from a couple of girls in a bar. Until someone delicately explained why they were so interested in me! Commented May 22 at 16:18

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