It’s springtime in Washington, D.C. and I’m so excited! There are a lot of places to enjoy nature, like the National Arboretum and Rock Creek Park.
Some spring days here are rainy. But other days are full of sunshine. The other day, it was sunny and beautiful. So, I walked to Rock Creek Park. And what did I see!? A blue heron. I took a picture but the bird was too far. So I ran closer and took another. Perfect.
You just heard me use the words other, the other and another.
As an English learner, you have probably used these words many times but may still be unsure if you are using them correctly.
In today’s program, we will help clear up any uncertainty you may have.
Other, the other and another are used to talk about a person or thing that is additional or different. They can act as determiners or pronouns.
Determiners and pronouns
That’s important for today’s program.
Determiners are words placed before nouns to show which person or thing is being referred to. For example, in “other days,” the word other is the determiner and days is the noun.
English has more determiners. The words a, an, the, our, your, both and any are just a few examples.
Pronouns are words that are used instead of nouns or noun phrases. For instance, I said, “So I ran closer and took another.” There, the word another acts as a pronoun and replaces the noun picture.
Now, let’s explore each word.
We’ll begin with other.
The word other is indefinite. The simpler way to say that is it describes nouns in a non-specific way.
Other can mean “additional” or “different kinds of.”
Noncount and plural nouns
As a determiner, other can be used with noncount nouns and plural nouns. You may remember an earlier Everyday Grammar program on noncount nouns.
Here's other with the noncount noun luggage:
Do you have other luggage to check?
And here it is with the plural noun plans:
Other plans offer unlimited monthly data.
One and ones
It is also very common to use the determiner other with the pronouns one and ones. When we do this, we must put an additional determiner before other.
Here it is with the pronoun one:
That picture's a little drab. I like that other one better.
And here it is with ones:
These are not the right keys. Could you look for the other ones?
Did you notice that none of the examples uses the plural form others? When it is a determiner, other never takes plural form.
As a pronoun
Other can also act as a pronoun. For this use, the plural form, others, is more common, as in this example:
This shirt has a hole in it. Do you have others?
Now, let’s talk about the other.
A minute or two ago, you heard an example that used this phrase.
The other is definite; it refers to specific people or things.
As a determiner, the other can be used with singular and plural nouns.
With singular nouns, it can mean the second of two choices, as in this example:
That green is a little drab. I like the other color better.
It can also mean the opposite direction or side, as in this:
My apartment is on the other side of D.C.
With a plural noun, the other refers to the remaining people or things, as in this:
Where are the other keys? These are not working.
As a pronoun
The phrase the other can also act as a pronoun – singular or plural. Listen to two examples:
This hat looks better than the other.
Keep this copy of the script. I’ll take the others.
Now, let’s talk about another.
The word another is made from two words: an and other. The word an tells us that another is indefinite. It doesn’t refer to specific person or thing.
Another can mean “one more” or “different from the first or other one.”
It is always singular and we use it with singular nouns.
Listen to two examples:
I’ll take another cup of coffee, please.
Is there another gas station near here?
As a determiner, another is also commonly used with the singular pronoun one. Listen to a short exchange:
Would you like a second cup of coffee?
Sure, I’ll have another one.
As a pronoun
We can also use another as a pronoun.
You’ll recognize the next exchange:
Would you like a second cup of coffee?
Sure, I’ll have another.
Well, that was a lot of information! Visit our website for a few tips plus a practice exercise.
I’m Alice Bryant.
Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
another key (is)
other keys (are)
the other key (is)
the other (is)
the other keys (are)
the others (are)
As a determiner, other does not take the plural form (no -s at end):
other keys (right)
others keys (wrong)
the others keys (wrong)
A determiner is needed before other when it is used with a singular noun:
the other day (right)
other day (wrong)
When the noun is indefinite (unspecific), use another.
another picture (right)
other picture (wrong)
The an in another means “one.” Another is always singular. Use it only with singular nouns:
another bicycle (right)
another bicycles (wrong)
Now, you try it! Choose one of these answers for each sentence: another, other, the other, others, the others. Write your answers in the comments section. Note: One of the sentences has two possible answers.
1. Some people like to go home after work. ______ like to meet up with their friends.
2. Sorry, there are no empty seats on this side of the room. There may be seats on _____ side.
3. I love this city. There is no _____ place like it!
4. That dress is not formal enough for the wedding. Do you have ______?
5. Your computer is so old. Maybe you should buy ______.
6. You met one of my sisters. But I have _____ one who lives in Boston.
7. These boxes are for dishes. _____ are for cups and glasses.
8. Are there any _____ questions?
Words in This Story
uncertainty – n. the quality or state of being doubtful
refer – v. to have a direct connection or relationship to something
phrase – n. a group of two or more words that express an idea but do not form a complete sentence
plural – adj. relating to a form of a word that refers to more than one person or thing
drab – adj. not bright or colorful
notice – n. to become aware of something by seeing or hearing it
singular – adj. relating to a form of a word that refers to one person or thing
script – n. the written form of a video, television show, play or something else
tip – n. a piece of advice or useful information
practice – v. to do something again and again in order to become better at it