‘SomeWHAT’ vs. ‘SomeTHING’


This week, I’m going to shift gears and turn back to a writing-related topic from the stories I’ve been posting in recent weeks. It’s a usage issue that has long bugged me: The misuse of SOMEWHAT for SOMETHING.

It grates on my editorial ear: For example, “This beautiful old car is somewhat of a classic.”

We see and hear sentences like this far too often. But it’s not good usage.

Is there a better way to say it? You bet!

Two ways, in fact:

(1) “This beautiful old car is something of a classic.”
(2) “This beautiful old car is somewhat classic.”

Here’s another example of the all-too-common confusion between the adverb SOMEWHAT and the pronoun SOMETHING, this one from a wonderfully helpful website, Common Errors in English Usage:

An “a” is most commonly inserted after “something” rather than after “somewhat”: “She is somewhat awkward,” and “He is something of a klutz.” “Somewhat of a” will strike some readers as a little odd.

“Somewhat of a” strikes me as not just “a little” odd, but VERY odd. My advice: Don’t be odd. Write it right!

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