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a. She didn't know that I had seen some of her paintings.

b. She didn't know that I had seen certain of her paintings.

c. She didn't know that I had seen any of her paintings.

I think (c) is clear. But do (a) and (b) mean the same?

Could they be used if she knew that I had seen some of the paintings, but she did not know that I had seen certain other ones. She knew I had seen paintings A, B, C and D but she did not know that I had also seen paintings E, F, G and H. In other words, could either of these sentences be used instead of:

d. There were certain of her paintings that she did not know I had seen.

Many thanks.

  • Maybe, but I would prefer "certain paintings", as in "b. She didn't know that I had seen certain paintings of hers. I would leave out the "of hers" if it is already implied. – user3169 Aug 13 '16 at 0:34
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Yes, A and B could both apply if she knew I had seen one or more of her paintings, but she didn't know that I had seen others.

A is ambiguous. It might mean that, or it might mean the same as C.

B means precisely that there are particular paintings that she didn't know I saw.

The ambiguity comes from the fact that some has more than one sense that might apply.

It can mean unspecified: I don't really care which ones, just give me some of them.

With plural nouns, it can mean certain, particular: Some months have 31 days.

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