English Grammar: “Other” vs. “Another” Difference

Other & Another: the Difference in English Grammar

Let's review the grammar rules for another, other, and the other:

another + singular nonspecific countable noun

Examples:

  • "Let's meet another day."
  • "I'd like another piece of cake."

The nouns ("day" and "piece") in both sentences are countable and singular (e.g. not with an 's') nouns.

The nouns in both sentences are also not specific. This means that the speaker doesn't care which day or piece of cake he gets; he just wants a different one. He wants another one, but he hasn't said (or it isn't clear or important) which one.

Hint: If you understand English articles ("a/an/the"), then think of "another" as "an + other." You can use "another" before a noun whenever you can use "a(n)" before a noun. The rules are the same. Another = an other!

other + plural or uncountable nonspecific noun

Examples:

  • "Other people have problems, too." [people = plural noun]
  • "This book has other information." [information = uncountable noun]

The nouns in both sentences are not specific, just like with "another". The speaker doesn't specify which other people have problems, or what other information the book has. The rules are the same as "another" except that "other" is used before plural or uncountable nouns.

Hint: If we think about articles (a/an/the) again, then remember that we use "other" before a noun that would NOT need an article.

 

the other + specific noun (singular, plural, countable or uncountable)

Examples:

  1. "I have two brothers. One of them lives in Canada. The other brother lives in Japan."
  2. "I go to school on Monday and Thursday. I work on the other days of the week."

The nouns ("brother" & "days") in both sentences are specific.

Re: Example #1: What brother lives in Japan? The other brother. The speaker said he has two brothers. He told you where the first brother lives, so the other brother must be his second brother. This is a specific brother (not general). You know what brother he is talking about.

Re: Example #2: What days of the week does he work on? Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. The speaker said he goes to school on Monday and Thursday. You know that the other days of the week are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. So the speaker says "the other" because it is clear what other days of the week he works on. Specifically, they are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Hint: Thinking about articles again, the rules for "the other" are the same as the rules for "the" + noun.

 

Do you think you understand?

Let's see! Take the test:

Three of my friends live in Boston. One is a doctor, one is a dentist, and doesn't have a job. The friend without a job's name is Craig. Craig needs a job. He also has problem: he needs a new girlfriend. His last girlfriend left him because she met man. man was rich and handsome. I told Craig not to worry about it; there are many girls in the world.

Answers

Three of my friends live in Boston. One is a doctor, one is a dentist, and the other doesn't have a job. The friend without a job's name is Craig. Craig needs a job. He also has another problem: he needs a new girlfriend. His last girlfriend left him because she met another man. The other man was rich and handsome. I told Craig not to worry about it; there are many other girls in the world.

I hope this was helpful. As we have seen, you need to understand how to use English articles (a/an/the) to use "another/the other/other" correctly. Articles are not easy. Keep studying, practicing, and don't give up!

Related: Help Understanding Articles (Beginner)

- Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com

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33 Comments on this News Lesson

  1. Pawel
    (Posted January 15, 2013 at 10:59 | Permalink | Reply)

    In the test, “a new a girlfriend” probably should read as “a new girlfriend.”

    • (Posted January 15, 2013 at 20:23 | Permalink | Reply)

      Thanks Pawel! I fixed it.

  2. Wayne
    (Posted February 6, 2013 at 15:18 | Permalink | Reply)

    I understand and agree with your explanation for “another” with singular. But it is also correct to say (e.g.) “There are 5 horses in this stable and another 3 [horses] in that stable.” So here, “another” is used with a plural noun. True? I suppose you could split hairs and say it is really “another GROUP OF 3 [horses]” to make it singular. Your thoughts?

    • (Posted February 6, 2013 at 21:26 | Permalink | Reply)

      Wayne: Good thought. I had never thought about that. With “another 3 horses,” I’d agree that we’re talking individual 3-horse groups though, separately. Grammatically the noun ‘horses’ is plural but perhaps ‘three’ can be also thought of as a noun, e.g. in the sentence ‘and then another three arrived’. Here three is a singular noun. I’m not a grammarian, but it is interesting though. Thanks for the comment!

      MB

    • uca
      (Posted December 24, 2013 at 17:00 | Permalink | Reply)

      in “another three horses”, another means “more” – three more horses. We especially use another in this way when we talk about distance and time. For example: I need another ten minutes or we’ll walk another two kilometres.

  3. Divine
    (Posted April 21, 2013 at 18:12 | Permalink | Reply)

    I find this site very useful to me since i am just starting to learn to set a grammar and study the english word.

  4. albino, Angola
    (Posted April 26, 2013 at 22:09 | Permalink | Reply)

    Outstanding

  5. farzane
    (Posted June 29, 2013 at 14:56 | Permalink | Reply)

    it was really helpful. thanks for your perfect explanation

  6. lucky girl
    (Posted August 15, 2013 at 21:31 | Permalink | Reply)

    thank you very much, it helped me a lot.

  7. imam
    (Posted September 5, 2013 at 07:22 | Permalink | Reply)

    Good Very good but you have to increase that again and again just it for you thanks !!

  8. Anonymous
    (Posted September 29, 2013 at 07:21 | Permalink | Reply)

    good. Thanks

  9. loc
    (Posted September 29, 2013 at 07:22 | Permalink | Reply)

    clear. thanks!

  10. Adriaan
    (Posted October 11, 2013 at 00:10 | Permalink | Reply)

    What if you’re trying to say “a different” in stead of “an additional”?
    For example: He lives in an other street. Is “an other” here correct, or it it still another?

    • Adriaan
      (Posted October 11, 2013 at 00:14 | Permalink | Reply)

      Or should I not have used “in stead”, another spelling of the word “instead”? :)

      • (Posted October 11, 2013 at 09:42 | Permalink | Reply)

        There is no “an other” in my opinion. There’s a thread on it here: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1690 , but after reading it, I still hold the same opinion.

        “In stead” should also be together in modern English. There is an expression ‘in sb’s stead.’ But that requires a determiner (in HIS stead, in HER stead). You don’t see it written without one (nowadays at least).

  11. naresh verma
    (Posted November 14, 2013 at 10:26 | Permalink | Reply)

    add new example

  12. Paulini
    (Posted November 16, 2013 at 06:50 | Permalink | Reply)

    Thanks,it is useful for me.

  13. Diaa meher
    (Posted December 6, 2013 at 12:31 | Permalink | Reply)

    in this topic is complete plz I request u mention the proper definition andexample of other ,anotherp

  14. Raúl from Sap
    (Posted December 7, 2013 at 15:39 | Permalink | Reply)

    According to Cambridge Dictionary we have to always use “another” before numbers, like Wayne said in the comment number 2: “There are 5 horses in this stable and another 3 [horses] in that stable.” But, if we said for example,”I want to buy the other three horses(I know the horses I’m talking about)Cambridge Dictionary is not accurate, I think.
    I have another doubt. What happened in this case?
    Imagine that I am in a snack bar with a friend and I have already eaten a sandwich. If I said to my friend “I want another sandwich”, it would be correct because here, sandwich is a non-specific name and it’s singular and countable and there are no determiners.
    But if I said “I want another blue cheese sandwich with mayonnaise”, would it be correct like that? I have the doubt because this sandwich,is in a way, an specific sandwich. It’s true that there may be over one blue cheese sandwich with mayonnaise in the snack bar. If there was only one blue cheese sandwich with mayonnaise we may say “I want the other blue cheese sandwich with mayonnaise”
    I don’t know if you understand my question, my english is not completely correct and I don’t know if I explained well. Thanks a lot four your lesson and for your time.

    • Raúl from Spain
      (Posted December 7, 2013 at 16:03 | Permalink | Reply)

      I have seen two mistakes in my last comment. It would be “What would happen in this case?” instead of “What happened in this case?” and my name is Raúl from Spain, not Raúl from Sap. I’m sorry. Thanks

      • Raúl from Spain
        (Posted December 8, 2013 at 15:45 | Permalink | Reply)

        Explanation: When I said in my main post, between brackets, “I know the horses I’m talking about”, I mean that this fact it is a true premise for me, although it was on only a supposition. Thanks

    • (Posted December 8, 2013 at 23:04 | Permalink | Reply)

      Hi Raúl. Thanks for the comment. In my post, I have used the words ‘specific’ and ‘non-specific’ a lot. These terms may be a little problematic. For example, if you tell your friend, “I have another job now.”, you are talking about a specific job (the one you have now). It’s not general. A trainer of mine preferred the terms ‘particular’ or ‘definite’ (although that doesn’t solve the problem really).

      Regarding your sentence, “I want another blue cheese sandwich with mayonnaise”, it does sound like we are talking about something fairly specific here too, so again the word ‘specific’ doesn’t seem like the right word. But, with that said, you aren’t saying specifically (or particularly) which other sandwich you want (there may be 3 blue cheese ones left), so it’s lacking some specificity. You could certainly be more specific, e.g. I want The blue cheese sandwich with mayonnaise that is beside the coke bottle.

      It sounds like you understand determiners quite well. Thanks for the comment.

      • Raúl from Spain
        (Posted December 12, 2013 at 18:38 | Permalink | Reply)

        Thanks again. I understand you perfectly. I’d like your opinion about the use of another before numbers. I am still thinking it depends of the context.

  15. Nadya
    (Posted April 1, 2014 at 14:15 | Permalink | Reply)

    Thank You soooo much for your help! This is the best explanation ever!!!!

  16. anand
    (Posted May 11, 2014 at 18:34 | Permalink | Reply)

    what about others…

    This bike might be slow but  others  are much faster,

    here I can't use other …explain ?

    • (Posted May 11, 2014 at 23:58 | Permalink | Reply)

      Your example is good. Others = other bikes. 'Others' here functions as a pronoun, replacing the original noun (bikes). The noun it is replacing (bikes) is plural, so you should use 'others' (with an S). 

  17. Rotua Meyly
    (Posted May 22, 2014 at 21:04 | Permalink | Reply)

    Alright, actually I would like to ask a doubt in my mind when I was studying in the class. We were studying about Forms of Other, and one of the questions at that time was "I got three letters. One was from my father. ………… one was from my sister. ………… letter was from my girlfriend." My opinion at that time was "I got three letters. One was from my father. The other one was from my sister. The other letter was from my girlfriend." But, the conclusion for the right answer that we agree at that time was "I got three letters. One was from my father. Another one was from my sister. The other letter was from my girlfriend." what do you think about this. Hasn't the letter been specify in this case? That's three letter? then why we use another there? Thank you. I'm waiting for your explanation. 

    • mb
      (Posted May 22, 2014 at 23:27 | Permalink | Reply)

      "I got three letters. One was from my father. Another one was from my sister. The other letter was from my girlfriend." < — this is correct. 

      You cannot use 'The other was from my sister' because it wouldn't be clear to the listener which letter you refer to. You know one was from your father. Now, two letters remain. You cannot use "the" (the definite article) to refer to the next letter because it could mean either of the two. You can only use 'the other' to refer to the last letter AFTER mentioning the first two because it is the only one that remains; it must be the one you are talking about.  Does that help?

      • Rotua Meyly
        (Posted May 23, 2014 at 00:07 | Permalink | Reply)

        Yeah.. I got it now.. Thanks mb.. 

  18. Andres
    (Posted June 3, 2014 at 23:17 | Permalink | Reply)

    My question is in this case:

    The selected registry was deleted in another session / or /  The selected registry was deleted in other session,  Help me please! 

    • mb
      (Posted June 4, 2014 at 08:10 | Permalink | Reply)

      another.  'Session' is  a countable noun, so you cannot say 'in other session.'

  19. Rod
    (Posted June 12, 2014 at 00:40 | Permalink | Reply)

    Thank you so much for this article. It really helped me a lot!

  20. Anonymous
    (Posted June 16, 2014 at 05:55 | Permalink | Reply)

    they are sooooooo helpful  ;)

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