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For the last 2 year I've been using the method I described to you, and I achieved (some) great results.

Would such sentence look better with or without the determiner some?

What would be the difference in meaning or tone, if any?

I remember that omitting some can change the meaning in some situations, like in

I bought (some) books! (telling to his wife upon entering the apartment)

Would imply, with some omitted, "I bought not some other thing(s), but books".

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    In an interview, for example, or even a report, I would omit the some. Interviews are not a time to be modest. Although the best way would be to quantify the results in a specific statement: I increased sales by 15% over the previous quarter's results. – user6951 Dec 8 '14 at 18:35
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To me, "I achieved some great results." means that you had some number of results that were amazing among all of the results. I don't think it has a negative connotation though, particularly if you're talking about something that has a lot of variability beyond your control, like for example, training aggressive dogs to make them less dangerous.

"I achieved great results." has the sense to me that "I used this tool in the circumstances that called for it, and it always did well."

  • Oh, so the addition of some qualifies the statement a bit, implying that some results might have been not so great. – CowperKettle Dec 8 '14 at 15:14
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    @CopperKettle That's how I interpret it, although I think some speakers use qualifiers like "some" to adjust the tone to seem less boastful or to make the statement less absolute instead of using them to be more precise. For example, "I never leave home without a towel." versus "I usually carry a towel with me." – ColleenV Dec 8 '14 at 15:19
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I would say the use of the word "some" diminishes the impact of the words that follow it. "I achieved some great results" would maybe infer less "great results" than "I achieved great results". Moreso in the book example.

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I recall Bobby Fischer mentioning in his notes to a chess game that "we had some great results with this system." Meaning, that in a number of discrete cases, employing the system had had a great result. If he had said "we had great results with this system" this would have a more general sense. Of course, the meaning is the same whether you use some or not: the "results" in question are the outcomes of chess games, whether referenced discretely or en masse.

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