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What's the difference between "buy gum at the store" and "buy some gum at the store"? What does the "some" in this sentence mean?

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The difference here is that 'some' is a quantifier that is generally understood to mean a small amount.

Thus, you would only use 'some' where a quantifier is appropriate.

In the example of 'buying gum', the use of 'some' implies the imminent intent to actually buy a quantity of gum. If you are talking about the general abstract concept of buying gum, you could skip the 'some'.

So, for instance:

  • You can buy gum at the store - describes the general fact that the place to acquire gum is the store.
  • You can buy some gum at the store - describes the fact that the store is the place to go in order to address your current desire for gum.

Generally, however, the difference is not really that important and you can use these largely interchangeably.

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