I need some new shoes.

-- Essential Grammar in Use

Do they use the sentence to get both a pair of shoes and two or more of them?

(When I’m going to buy just a pair of shoes, can I say “I need some new shoes?” And when I’m going to buy two or more pairs of shoes, can I also say “I need some new shows?”)

  • 1
    "Some shoes" means two or more shoes (which may or may not come in pairs). If you say "I need some new shoes," it can be inferred from context that you are talking about one or more pairs of shoes. If you say "I need to find some shoes before I leave the house," it can be inferred that you are looking for a pair of shoes. Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 14:23
  • 2
    To remove some of the ambiguity, one can always say, "I need new shoes." when conveying the idea that they need to replace a single pair of shoes, or, "I need all new shoes." when you'd like to throw them all out and start over. That leaves some free to be used to indicate more than 1 pair, but less that all. However just because you might use the words consistently this way doesn't mean your listeners will understand it as intended without appropriate context.
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 19:37

1 Answer 1


Some means a small number which is at least two, and which is usually more than two. However, for things that go in pair, it is perfectly standard to use some to mean one pair. The context usually makes this clear.

For example, if you walk into a shoe shop and say “I want some new boots”, the vendor will assume that you want to buy a new pair. I think “I want a new pair of boots” is a bit more common but using some doesn't sound strange. If you're about to leave home and you just need to put on shoes, saying “I'll be here as soon as I've put some shoes on” is idiomatic; mentioning a pair in this context would be possible but a little overspecific.

If you say “there are some shoes on top of the wardrobe”, it could be one pair, or many pairs, or two or more shoes that don't form pairs. If you say “there is a pair of shoes …”, then there are two shoes, a right shoe and a left shoe from an assorted pair. If you say “there are many shoes …” then there are at least three and probably a few more.

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