Do I need "some" in "If the weather is not so good, I read a book or some news"?

4

During my lunch break, I usually go for a walk. If the weather is not so good, I read a book or some news.

Can we omit some here?

During my lunch break, I usually go for a walk. If the weather is not so good, I read a book or news.

For some reason, the first sentence looks better to me. Is it because news is a noncount noun and invites the use of some in some way?

Or is the second sentence really okay? Or are they both okay, but have different shades of meaning?

CowperKettle

Posted 2015-12-08T12:53:03.780

Reputation: 36 949

2I read news sounds absolutely okay to me. – Maulik V – 2015-12-08T12:58:38.173

@MaulikV - thanks, Maulik! Let's wait for some responses from AmE and BrE English speakers. (0: – CowperKettle – 2015-12-08T12:59:45.430

9"I read a book or news" is grammatical but you wouldn't slip past a native speaker's "foreigner detection radar". We read the news. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2015-12-08T13:38:59.667

@TRomano - so, then no some is present, it's obligatory to use the? "During my lunch break, I usually go for a walk. If the weather is not so good, I read a book or the news."? I thought it was not obligatory, since news is a noncount noun.. – CowperKettle – 2015-12-08T13:40:34.523

3Not obligatory, no, but you'd need a context that supported the categorical use, such as "I have a friend who reads the NY Times wedding announcements. Me, I don't consider that news." Or "I toss the Fashion and Cooking sections into the waste bin. I want news." – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2015-12-08T13:43:12.340

@TRomano - Hmm. is it that we tend to use no article in a counterbalancing context? "Have you bought the books? - No, I bought butter." vs. "What did you buy? -- I bought some butter". And "What did you buy? -- I bought butter" (WRONG) – CowperKettle – 2015-12-08T13:44:47.037

Right, bad example. It's gone. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2015-12-08T13:48:00.393

How about "I go to the Guardian for news." – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2015-12-08T13:49:34.273

4@TRomano: There's no question in my mind that I read a book or news screams "NNS!". I think it's because *a book* and *news* are almost unavoidably different "categories" (one's still usually a specific physical object, the other a far more general "noncount noun". Thus it's still "weird" (although not quite so bad) even if we include the article (the* news)*. To me at least, the natural pairing is still *a book or a newspaper* - but usage may be changing even as we consider the issue, since paper books/newspapers are *both* being replaced by text on screens. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2015-12-08T17:46:49.850

@FumbleFingers I agree with the books/newspaper symmetry, but I can still read a book or a newspaper on my tablet. Just because they are the digital editions and not the dead tree versions doesn't change the way I refer to them. Although, I don't read newspapers any more, even though I do read some news on Google during my breaks and watch the news in the evening. Hmm, tricky trying to explain why I use that phrasing, so this question gets my up-vote. – ColleenV – 2015-12-08T19:36:44.207

2I might say "I read a poem or some fiction on my break" or "I read poetry or fiction" but not "I read a poem or fiction." It's unsettling to use a thing like "a poem" in parallel with a category like "fiction". It might be because I can say "a fiction book" or "a news article" and I expect the pattern "a book or (a) news article" but the sentence stops short. If you say "a book or some news" my expectation for the end of the sentence is different. – ColleenV – 2015-12-08T20:09:43.850

1@ColleenV: I think the technological changes might be moving ahead faster than the language (that of older speakers, at least) can keep pace with. I bet a couple of centuries ago it was almost always Have you heard the news? when asking someone if they were aware of some very recent topical event of great significance. We still have radio and good old-fashioned "word of mouth", but I bet *Have you seen the news?* is more common today. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2015-12-08T21:41:12.027

@FumbleFingers I think you're right about seen vs read, and I think video replacing radio might have started that shift a while ago. Now "have you seen the news?" is probably asking if it showed up in your Twitter stream and you noticed it among all the kitten pictures, not whether you saw a broadcast ;) – ColleenV – 2015-12-08T22:03:17.967

Answers

4

During my lunch break, I usually go for a walk. If the weather is not so good (or: 'that great'), I read a book or (some) news.

No, you do not need some in your sentence. Trigger happy voters, please read the whole answer before voting on it. I'm a-gonna get to the news in a moment.

Some means

A certain (unspecified) amount, part, degree, or extent of (something) (Oxford English Dictonary, I.4.a)

It is often used before mass nouns, and news is a mass noun, at least in modern standard English.

Thus, the common opening:

I've got some good news and some bad news. Which do you want to hear first?

We could also say

Some news travels faster than other news (, namely bad news).

But, like with butter, the some is not necessary. And, by the way, you can answer the question 'What did you buy?' with 'I bought butter' or 'I bought some butter'.

Thus we have:

News travels fast in this day and age.

and

News travels fast in the country (rural areas).

and

That's news to me.

and

Have I got news for you...

And note, so far we have been using news in its basic meaning:

Newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events. (Oxford, definition 1)

Keeping this definition in mind, an example closer to your sentence of not using a determiner before news is

I read news for a living.

This sentence is not talking about the newspaper or magazines but about the stuff that newspapers report. It is still talking about Oxford, definition 1, not definition 1.1, which see.

And that stuff can be written down, so you can read it. And the guy who reads news for a living must have written sources or accounts or presentations of news to read.

And once it becomes published or broadcast, news is almost always the news. Cue Definition 1.1 in Oxford:

(the news) A broadcast or published report of news

So a native speaker gets his news (new information) from the news (new information in pubished or broadcast form). And so, a native speaker would expect the news in your sentence.

Another usage of the news is to talk about one item of news:

Have you heard the news? MJ died! We landed on the moon! The war is over! Etc!

And a response could be

That is some news.

And now the meaning of some, when stressed, means

Quite a; a remarkable [piece of news] (Cf OED).

An interesting variant of your sentence is

During my lunch break, I usually go for a walk. If the weather is not so good, I read some books or some news.

Here we are back to some meaning an indefinite amount. And, because of the dual use of some, this sentence sounds much more felicitous and non non-native. So don't ever let someone tell you that how a sentence sounds is never a factor in determining either grammaticality or "felcitousness."

user20792

Posted 2015-12-08T12:53:03.780

Reputation:

I found it: "The zero article may be used instead of some, particularly if a contrast is implied prosodically: "I've just bought MELONS" (but not grapes); "I haven't bought BOOKS" (but I've bought magazines) (Quirk et al., 1985, 5.39) I forgot about the mention of prosody and only recalled the mention of a contrast.

– CowperKettle – 2015-12-09T04:37:18.253

@CK Okay... NB "particularly if", but not necessarily. You can use some when you want, and you can forgo its use when you want. Watch more movies, read more (good) fiction: that will "learn" you how native speakers express themselves. – None – 2015-12-09T09:02:32.120

4

The normal way to say this is, "I read the news." That is, with the article "the".

I don't know that there's any general grammar rule why this is so. Arguably it's an idiom.

We say, "The fire was big news", no article. Or, "I heard good news today." "We haven't heard any news from Bob since the accident." That is, the individual facts or events are generally referred to as "news", without an article. But when you talk about reading, watching, or listening to some source of news, it becomes "the news". "I read the news in World Magazine." "I watched the news on CNN." "I listened to the news on radio station KHMO." "The news will be on at 6 o'clock." "I read an interesting story in the news." Etc.

Jay

Posted 2015-12-08T12:53:03.780

Reputation: 51 729

2So, "“If the weather is not so good, I read a book or the news”? – CowperKettle – 2015-12-08T15:16:17.407

2@CopperKettle - That's what I would say. – stangdon – 2015-12-08T15:21:50.557

1@CopperKettle Yes. – Jay – 2015-12-08T15:28:03.940

2@CopperKettle Maybe it's the American in me but "the news" refers to a tv show, often... so I'd be more likely to say "read a book or a newspaper"... – Catija – 2015-12-08T20:13:19.760