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Should "someone" or "someone else" be used in the below sentence and why?

(1) John took someone's car.

(2) John took someone else's car.

There is no prior context to the sentences, so "someone else's" is not implying that John is taking the car of someone else (person B) than someone mentioned before (person A).

On the one hand, I feel that "else" is redundant. On the other hand, I also feel that "else" is maybe necessary because it states clearly that the car belongs to someone different than John (hence, someone else), though this is also implied in (1), so I don't know what to think.

Thank you for any guidance on this.

2 Answers 2

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The concept here is that property can belong to you, to somebody else, or to nobody.

In taking "someone's" car, John could be taking his own car, as he is himself "someone".

However, when John takes "someone else's" car, we are being emphatic that he is taking something that belongs to another person.

You are correct that referring to "someone" often implies "someone else", but the inclusive sense can be found in sentences like "John is someone who doesn't hesitate to take other people's things".

You could also find it in an exchange like John saying "Someone has scratched my car!", to which his wife replies "Yes, John, you scratched the car last week. Have you forgotten?", where clearly the wife holds that John is the "someone" in question.

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  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.
    – user161917
    Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 7:28
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You are right. It may be considered superfluous or it may not be.

  1. Superfluous

If there are no prior contexts, Both the sentences are equivalent. The use of "else" is superfluous.

Superfluous (Merriam Webster Dictionary): exceeding what is sufficient or necessary : extra : not needed : unnecessary

  1. Not superfluous

    (1) John took someone's car.

    (2) John took someone else's car.

Clearly the saying is done by an individual(let us say his/her name is A) other than John. The first sentence might mean "that someone" might be known to A or not. The second sentence might mean "that someone else" might not be known to A.

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