Someone vs. Something in English Grammar

The Difference between 'Someone' and 'Something'

What is the difference between the two indefinite pronouns 'someone' and 'something'? Can they be used interchangeably?

Someone vs. Something

'Someone' and 'something' are both indefinite pronouns comprised of two parts.

  • some + one
  • some + thing

Those indefinite pronouns made up of -one refer only to nonspecified or unknown humans.
Those indefinite pronouns made up of -thing refer only to nonspecified or unknown things (non-humans).

Something fishy is going on here .

Pick something you like .

Has somebody seen my purse ?

Somebody's at the door asking for you .

As a noun, 'someone' refers to an unnamed person we might or might not know.

Are you going to buy it for that special someone ?

Those someones we were discussing were here an hour before .

'Something' as a noun can both refer to a person or thing of some importance. Remember that in this case it is used mostly in informal English.

She is really something ! I can't believe she did that !

You've never met Adam . He's something else .

'Something' can also be used as an adverb. It is synonymous to 'somewhat' and it means 'in some degree'.

It remains something of a mystery .

In non-standard English, 'something' is ‌used with an adjective for emphasis.

He swore something awful .

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