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Another vs. Other: Differences, Uses, and Common Mistakes (Audio Reading Included)

Updated: Aug 4, 2023



Recommended level: Intermediate


Quick Reference

  • Another means one more, an additional or extra, or an alternative or different one of something or someone. As a determiner, it is used before singular nouns (another drink, another reason, another website, etc.). It can also be used as a pronoun ("I would like another").

  • Other means additional or extra, alternative, or different types of things or people. It is used before plural or uncountable nouns (other people, other information, other stores, etc.).

  • Use the other before all noun types to mean the second, the opposite, or the alternative of two options (the other book, the other presentations, the other furniture, etc.). The other can also be used as a pronoun, typically referring back to something which has been mentioned before ("This one is too heavy. I'll take the other instead").

  • Use others as a pronoun which refers to more than one thing or person ("Some people believe he's guilty. Others believe he's innocent").

  • Use the others as a pronoun which refers to a specific group of things or people, meaning the second, the opposite, or the alternative of two options ("Only Tina and Reggie liked the food. The others thought it was too spicy").


The words another and other are similar but different, as they have comparable meanings, but they don't always have the same grammatical uses. Once you understand these key differences, you will learn how to use these words without significant difficulty. Read on to learn how to use other and another, as well as others, the other, and the others.


To begin, I want to address a common mistake that is sometimes made by English learners with other and another. Note the following examples:


"The first person I saw at the store was busy, so I looked for other customer service rep."


"This phone is too expensive. Do you have other one I can look at?"


Now, because I have said that these are mistakes, you have probably guessed that using the word other in these sentence is not correct. In fact, in both cases, the correct word is another, so you should say "I looked for another customer service rep" and "Do you have another one I can look at?"


Why?


Another

The word another is used with singular nouns. For instance: another person, another drink, another reason, another book, another family, another group, etc. (Tip: If it's easier for you, you can think of another as two words in one word: an other--another!) In the examples above, another is followed by the singular nouns customer service rep and one, which stands in place of the word phone.


So, what does the word another mean? It means one more, an additional or extra, or an alternative or different one of something or someone. In the first example above, the person is looking for an additional or a different customer service rep because the first customer service rep is busy. In the second example, the person is asking to see a different phone because the first one is too expensive.


This means that if you want to say that you would like an extra drink at a restaurant, you can say "Could I have another glass of orange juice, please?" If you are at an electronics store and you want the customer service rep to show you a different laptop computer, you can say "May I see another model, please?"


You can also use another as a singular pronoun. A pronoun is a word which substitutes for a noun, as in "These cookies are really good. Can I have another?" In this case, you mean another cookie. You could also say "Can I have another one?" in this scenario.


Another is quite simple to understand when you remember that it must come before a singular noun, or stand in place of a singular noun. Here are a few more examples:


"Professor! I have another question!"


"That smoothie was really good. I think I'll ask for another."


"Hello. This is Jim Armstrong. Is Mister Maddock available?"

"No, I'm sorry. He has left for the day."

"Oh, that's okay. I'll call back another time."


"Please, give me another chance. I promise I won't fail you again!"


"Can I have another glass of water, please?"


"I like the design of this phone case, but the red is a little too flashy for me. Do you have it in another colour?"


Now, it's your turn. Answer the question below.


Practice: If you had the time to learn another skill, which one would you like to learn?


So, what about the word other?


Other

Unlike another, which is used as a determiner before singular count nouns, the word other is used as a determiner before plural or uncountable nouns. For instance: other cities, other people, other places, other information, other music, etc. Other means additional or extra, alternative, or different types of things or people. Let's take a look at some examples:


"This is my favourite brand of juice. Other brands have too much sugar."


"I like lo-fi hip-hop, but I listen to other types of music, too."


"Did she give you any other information, or is this all of it?"


"Do we have any other options?"


"I know that a lot of other people didn't like it, but I loved that movie."


"Some of my other friends think I'm making a mistake, so I'm happy to hear that you think I'm making the right decision."


"These aren't the only brands they have. They have other ones in the next aisle."


"You can't control what other people think of you, so don't worry about it too much."


As you can see, you can modify the word other with quantifiers, such as "a lot of other" and "some other." Here is one more example to illustrate this construction: "There are many other questions I'd love to ask you." Now, answer this question with the word other.


Practice: Do you mind when other people ask you your age?


Now, let's move on to the other, others, and the others.


The Other

When you are discussing or choosing between two options, you can use the other to refer to the second, the opposite, or the alternative of two options. You can use it as a determiner before any noun type (singular, plural, or uncountable), or as a pronoun which stands alone. Don't worry, we'll look at some examples shortly.


For now, imagine you are shopping for a hat. You have looked at many hats and have finally found two that you really like. One is blue. One is orange. Which one will you choose? Let's illustrate this scenario with a dialogue.


You: "I'm not sure if I like the blue one or the orange one more. What do you think? Here, I'll put the orange one on again."


Your friend: "Hmm. It looks good, but I think you look better in the other one."


You: "You think so? Oh, and actually, the blue one is cheaper, too."


Your friend: "And aren't you trying to save money? You know what you have to do. Take off the one on your head and buy the other one."


As you can see, we often use the phrase "the other one" when we know which noun we are referring to. Now, let's look at a variety of examples to see the various ways the other can be used.


"We played well, but the other team played better."


"My mom said I should ask for a promotion. The other advice she gave me was to make sure I prepared a list of my accomplishments."


"Thanks for coming to the meeting. Where are the other members of your team?"


"They have two cars. One is a Toyota and the other is a Hyundai." (In this case, the other is being used as a pronoun.)


"So, I was talking to Tracy the other day, and she told me she's moving to Singapore." (In this case, the other day means the day before, or yesterday.)


"The company moved their operations here because the other building was too old."


Are you ready to practice? Answer the question below.


Practice: Do you like both sweet and salty snacks, or do you prefer one more than the other?


Finally, let's move on to others and the others.


Others and The Others

In short, others and the others are both used as pronouns that refer to more than one thing or person. The difference is that others refers to a generalized group, while the others refers to a specific group. Let's take a look at some sentences to see the difference.


"It was a polarizing movie. Some people liked it, and others didn't." (In this case, you can also say "Some people liked it, and other people didn't.")


"Okay, I think half the group is here. Can you wait here with them while I go the other room to get the others?" (Meaning, the other members of the group.)


"No one likes it when others judge them." (Meaning, no one likes it when other people judge them.)


"These cookies are ready, but the others are still in the oven." (Meaning, the other cookies are still in the oven.)


As you can see, others and the others stand alone. They are pronouns, and you cannot follow them with a noun (unless you use a possessive, such as "The others' houses," meaning the houses which belong to the other people). With this in mind, I want to point out one more common mistake. Take a look:


"She doesn't listen to others people."


You do not need to, and in fact, you cannot use others before a plural noun. Remember, others stands by itself. It's a pronoun. In the case above, the correct sentence would be "She doesn't listen to other people."


Okay, one more practice question. Here we go.


Practice: Is it important for humans to socialize with others? Why or why not?


That's it! Thank you for improving your English with me. If you enjoyed this page, and you would like to support my work while improving your English at the same time, consider purchasing a PDF, e-Book, or physical copy of one of my books. Thank you, and until next time, I wish you success in your studies.

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