Word Confusion: Some versus Sum

Posted October 10, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This heterographic pair certainly applies to my mathematical abilities — some of my sums just don’t make sense…sigh…

Then again, some part of me can be brilliant. Just not sums.

You may want to explore the post, “Some Time vs Sometime vs Sometimes” as well.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

If you found this post on “Some versus Sum” interesting, consider tweeting it to your friends. Subscribe to KD Did It, if you’d like to track this post for future updates.

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Some Sum
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: some and sum

Students of U. S. Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools serve food to attendees of the Black History Month Closing Ceremony on Camp Johnson, N.C., Feb. 27, 2013.

“Marine Corps Serves Up Food” by Lance Cpl. Holly A. Williams is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“Would you like some more?”

Pie chart of Wikipedia content by subject as of January 2008.

“Wikipedia Content by Subject” by Mikael Häggström, using content icons by various authors: see Wikipedia:Portal:Contents/Categorical index [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As of 2008, this was the sum total of Wikipedia’s knowledge.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective 1; Adverb 1; Combined Form 2; Determiner 1; Pronoun 1; Suffix 3, 4 Noun; Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: sums
Past tense or past participle: summed
Gerund or present participle: summing

Being an undetermined or unspecified one

[Used with plural nouns] Certain

Of a certain unspecified number, amount, degree, etc.

Unspecified but considerable in number, amount, degree, etc.

[Informal] Of impressive or remarkable quality, consequence, extent, etc.

[North American; informal] To some extent

  • Somewhat

Combined Form:

Denoting a portion of a body, especially a particle of a cell

An unspecified amount or number of

Used to refer to someone or something that is unknown or unspecified

[Used with a number] Approximately

A considerable amount or number of

At least a small amount or number of

Expressing admiration of something notable

  • Used ironically to express disapproval or disbelief

An unspecified number or amount of people or things

At least a small amount or number of people or things

[Forming adjectives meaning:] 3

  • Productive of
  • Characterized by being
    • Apt to

[Forming nouns] Denoting a group of a specified number 3

A particular amount of money

[The sum of] The total amount resulting from the addition of two or more numbers, amounts, or items

  • The total amount of something that exists

An arithmetical problem, especially at an elementary level

Verb, intransitive:
To amount (usually followed by to or into)

Verb, transitive:
To combine into an aggregate or total (often followed by up)

To ascertain the sum of, as by addition

To bring into or contain in a small compass (often followed by up)

Some person may object.

Some days I just want to stay home.

I can understand your point to some extent.

We talked for some time. He was here some weeks.

That was some storm.

When you get to the majors, the rules change some.

Combined Form:
Chromosomes are thread-like structures of protein and a single molecule of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

Awesome, dude!

Well, that sounds quite adventuresome…

Oh, don’t be so bothersome.

Geez, this thing is cumbersome. Next time you have to move, call someone else.

I made some money running errands.

He played some records for me.

She married some newspaper magnate twice her age.

There must be some mistake.

He’s in some kind of trouble.

There are some thirty different languages spoken here at the conference.

He went to some trouble.

I’ve known you for some years now.

He liked some music but generally wasn’t musical.

Wow, that was some goal!

Mr. Power gave his stock reply: “Some help.”

Here are some of our suggestions.

If you want whiskey, I’ll give you some.

Surely some have noticed?

Paul is the most loathsome creature.

Dolly is so wholesome looking.

They are such a tiresome couple.

We can make up a foursome for bridge.

Threesomes can get pretty kinky.

They could not afford such a sum.

The sum of two prime numbers.

If that’s the sum of his own knowledge, we’re in trouble.

And what is the sum of 2 + 2?

It was the sum total of his existence.

This interpretation does little, in sum, to add to our understanding.

The books he read were chiefly historical, and on these he spent a certain sum every year (Your Dictionary.com).

Verb, intransitive:
Their expenses summed into the thousands.

Verb, transitive:
We summed up our assets and liabilities.

George summed him up in a second.

Jenny, you’ll sum up our case for the prosecution.

Adjective: sumless
Noun: sumlessness
Verb, transitive: outsum outsummed, outsumming
Phrasal Verb
sum someone up
sum something up
sum up
History of the Word:
1 Old English sum is of Germanic origin, from an Indo-European root shared by the Greek hamōs meaning somehow and the Sanskrit sama meaning any, every.
2 The combined form is from the Greek sōma meaning body.
3 Old English -sum.
4 Old English sum meaning some.
Middle English, via Old French from the Latin summa meaning main part or sum total, the feminine of summus meaning highest.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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