What does “Some” Mean on the LSAT?

If you’re an adult and a native English speaker, and you’re asking this question, there’s a pretty good chance you’re studying for LSAT Logical Reasoning.

Some is an extremely common word that, like most extremely common words, we largely take for granted in daily usage. But when it comes up over and over and over again in surprisingly difficult questions on an exam, you might start to doubt your understanding of this tricky little word.

One or More

Fortunately, it’s really not that tricky at all. Some means one or more. If we really wanted to get technical, we could say that it means any amount except none or no. Thus, when I ask you to give me some Skittles, you can technically satisfy my demands with one measly lemon Skittle, though we all know that isn’t what I’m hoping for. If I ask you to pass me some mashed potatoes, it would be rather difficult for you to pass me one or two or three mashed potatoes, so you can just give me a spoonful or a bowlful–or even a handful, which again is technically correct but also disappointing. Basically, anything more than no mashed potatoes would be fine.

One and All

One important thing to remember about some is that it can mean both one and all. Overlooking these two possibilities is the most common some-related mistake that people make on the LSAT. Here’s an example of where you might be led astray:

    All widgets are gadgets and one particular widget is also a gizmo. Therefore, some
    gadgets are gizmos.

In this case, it’s true that some gadgets are gizmos because there is at least one particular widget that is both a gadget and a gizmo. At least one fits the definition of some, so this works out.

Obviously, the above example is not as nuanced as some of those you’ll find on the actual LSAT, but hopefully it gives you an idea of where mistakes might occur. Specifically, most test-takers who misconstrue some assign it an overly-specific definition. They think it means more than one and less than all. That’s limiting the definition just a bit too much.

If I told you that I hid $1,000,000 in cash at an office building, and that the money was above ground level, would you completely skip over the bottom floor and the roof? I sure wouldn’t. Any good lawyer knows that “above ground level” just means the money isn’t sitting on the floor in the lobby. It could, however, be sitting on a table at the security guard’s desk. It could also be taped to the ceiling of the top floor, or stuck inside an air conditioning unit on the roof. That’s still technically “at” the office building.

In other words, interpret words as inclusively as possible on the LSAT. Some doesn’t mean none or no, but it can mean pretty much any other amount.
For more on language like this, check out the posts on many and most, or vs. and, and various other formal logic topics, starting with If/then statements and contrapositives.

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  • Travis Coleman

    Travis is in charge of helping students turn LSAT prep into an afternoon with this guy. With a JD from NYU and an English degree from Boston College, he's dedicated his career to fighting the forces of unnecessary legal jargon and faulty logic. When not geeking out on the LSAT, he can probably be found on skis, in water, or in the vicinity of a roller coaster.

5 Responses to What does “Some” Mean on the LSAT?

  1. Daniel May 28, 2019 at 7:08 PM #

    Some is a low amount that implies more than one. You have failed to convince me otherwise with your examples. “Pass me some mashed potato”. Means I just want some of the mash, nor do I want my plate filled with mash potato, I just want a small portion. In this case the method of delivery could consist of 1 spoonful of mash or they may give you all the mash to take some out of but the method of delivery is something completely different.

    “Some gadgets are gizmos” when you are referring to just one is simply bad English. Nor would you ever use some to refer to the majority.

    If you are using the word “some” to mean 1 or all, then I would say it is the poorly worded test questions that needs examining, not the students definition of the word after all this test is supposed to also examine peoples “logical reasoning”.

    One example where it could be interpreted as one might be if someone says “Let me give you some advice…” and then they just comment on one thing, but then again when used this way it is not referring to the quantity of pieces of advice but simply that they are giving you a small amount of guidance.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 5, 2019 at 4:40 PM #

      Thanks for your feedback, Daniel! This post is really saying that the technical definition of some is “one or more.” You’re right that people don’t always talk this way, but the logical use of a word isn’t always the same as the colloquial use of the word. Just keep the definition in mind when you see the word ‘some’ and watch out for any logical funny business that the LSAT might be using 🙂

  2. Anonymous November 25, 2019 at 7:13 PM #

    Can listening to one song be some?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 18, 2020 at 8:21 AM #

      Hi there!

      On the LSAT, “some” means “one or more.” So “some songs” could be one song. It could also be two songs. Or three songs, etc. 🙂

  3. Ivan November 30, 2019 at 5:50 PM #

    Is listening to 2 songs some?

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