Is there any difference (in nuances, or commonness, ...) between the following sentences?

When John is angry, he lets out some oaths.

When John is angry, he lets out oaths.

When John is angry, he lets out oath.

Is there any general rule regarding the difference between Xs and some Xs? I've already seen coffee vs. some coffee , but it seems to me to be about the particular case in which X=coffee.

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    None of them is particularly idiomatic. When John is angry he curses (or cusses). – Hot Licks May 16 '18 at 11:30
  • Thanks @HotLicks. Do you mean "letting an oath" is not idiomatic at all? Or it used in some other situations? – Kaveh May 16 '18 at 11:47
  • It's not idiomatic in the US. – Hot Licks May 16 '18 at 11:55
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    In everyday speech, it would be more usual to say 'he curses' or 'he swears'. In a work of fiction, describing a single incident 'John let out an oath' (or 'a string of oaths') would be acceptable. In your examples, 'oaths' (bad words in general) is better than 'some oaths', which implies that John only uses a few of the words that he might choose. (Of course he may have a few favourite swear words, but the sentence still looks odd.) – Kate Bunting May 16 '18 at 13:01
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    "Oath" is almost archaic, and "lets out" would not be used with it today. In any case you would never use "some" in this context. This is a question for English Language Learners. – David May 16 '18 at 17:49

"When John is angry, he lets out some oaths."

Each time John is angry, he lets out/utters a number of oaths greater than one (this is indicated by the plural 'oaths').

some determiner (UNKNOWN AMOUNT) ​ an amount or number of something that is not stated or not known Cambridge Dictionaries

"When John is angry, he lets out oaths."

Each time John is angry, he habitually lets out one or more oaths. The absence of the determiner'some' means that the number of oaths, while still unknown, could be one.

"When John is angry, he lets out oath."

Not proper English. Either an oath or oaths (plural) or some oaths.


According to "Практическая грамматика английского языка" by Качалова, there is. For example, if an Englishman says: - "He has sent me some magazines from Leningrad" - he means that he received a certain AMOUNT of magazines. But, when he says: - "He has sent me magazines from Leningrad" - he means that he received magazines, and not bears or balalaikas.

  • In the case it's available online, would you please provide a link to the source you mentioned. – Kaveh May 16 '18 at 11:08
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    It is a very popular book in Russia. You just have to google "Качалова, Израилевич, Английский" and you get about a hundred links to download. You might try nashol.com/2014070678736/… – Zak May 16 '18 at 11:23
  • You can only talk about amount of magazines if you are weighing them. Like a certain Russian politician, things that are popular in Russia don't necessarily go down well here. – David May 16 '18 at 17:53
  • I'm a little curious as to why you think this is at all relevant to the question. – Hot Licks May 16 '18 at 19:04

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