Other, Another, and Others

Many students are confused by these words:

  • other
  • another
  • others
  • the other
  • the others

Do you know the difference? I will try to explain them simply. All of these words show that something is different or separate from something else.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

Other

“Other” is an adjective. Adjectives describe nouns. We use “other” before plural and non-count nouns.

  • other people
  • other countries
  • other rice

I will put these phrases into sentences. You will see that I am separating things in each sentence.

  • Some people love cats, but other people love dogs. – I am separating people based on the animals that they love.
  • There are 3 students in my class from China, but there are 15 students from other countries. – I am separating countries and people who are from different countries.
  • If you don’t like this kind of rice, I have other rice that I can cook. – Maybe I have brown rice, basmati rice, and wild rice. I am separating different kinds of rice.

Another

“Another” is also an adjective. We use it before singular nouns. It means “one more” or “one different.”

  • another cookie
  • another person
  • another country

Now, I will put these phrases into sentences. You can see that I am talking about one more or one different thing/person.

  • I ate 4 cookies, but I want another cookie. – I want one additional cookie.
  • There are 10 people in this room, and another person is arriving now. – One more person is arriving. Soon we will have 11 people in the room.
  • I’m from France, but my friend is from another country. – My friend is from a different country, not my country.

Others

This word is a little more difficult. “Others” is a pronoun. Pronouns – like “he,” “she,” and “it” – take the place of nouns. We can use pronouns very simply:

  • Jim is tall. He is tall.

Or we can use them in the place of very long, complicated nouns:

  • The students who have been playing soccer all day look tired. They look tired.

We use “others” in the place of “other + a plural noun.”

  • Some people love cats, but others love dogs. – In this sentence, “others” means “other people.”

We can only use “others” when the noun is very clear. We usually use it because we don’t want to repeat the noun. When we use “others,” we are speaking generally. We are not talking about a specific group.

Another (as a pronoun)

It is also possible to use “another” as a pronoun. Again, we use it when the noun is clear (because we already used it), and we don’t want to use it again. It still means “one more thing” or “one different thing.”

  • I ate 4 cookies, but I want another. – I don’t want to repeat “cookie,” and it is clear that we are talking about cookies, so I don’t need to repeat it.
  • There are 10 people in this room, and another is arriving now. – It is clear that I am talking about people, so I don’t need to say “person.” You can understand that I mean “another person.”

The other

In general, we use “the” when:

  1. we are talking about something specific
    AND
  2. both the speaker and the listener understand which specific thing we are talking about.

We can use “the other” with any kind of noun (singular, plural, or non-count).

  • the other cookie
  • the other people
  • the other furniture

Now, I will put these phrases into sentences for you.

  • I ate the other cookie. – In this situation, there was one more cookie. I know that there was only one cookie because “cookie” is a singular noun. The speaker and the listener both understand which cookie we are talking about because we were sitting together. We both saw the plate with one remaining cookie.
  • These people arrived 5 minutes ago, but I don’t know when the other people arrived. – In this situation, there are two groups of people. One group of people arrived 5 minutes ago. The second group of people arrived at some other time. We are talking about a specific group of people, not all people in general.
  • We will take some of our furniture with us when we move, but we will sell the other furniture. – We have a lot of furniture. We want to keep some of it, but we want to sell some more. In my mind, I have separated my furniture into two specific groups. The first group will move with me. The second group will be sold.

It is also possible to use “the other” as a pronoun (not include the noun when it is clear which noun we are talking about). However, we can only use is as a pronoun for singular nouns. Here are some examples:

  • You ate one cookie, and I ate the other. – There were two cookies. You had one, and I had one. I don’t need to repeat “cookie” because it is clear.
  • That student is from France, and the other is from South Korea. – There are two students. One student is from France, and one student is from South Korea. I don’t need to repeat “student.”
  • You clean this bathroom, and I will clean the other. – We have two bathrooms, and we will each clean one. I don’t need to repeat “bathroom.”

You can also write all of these sentences with “the other one.”

  • You ate one cookie, and I ate the other one.
  • That student is from France, and the other one is from South Korea.
  • You clean this bathroom, and I will clean the other one.

The others

Finally, we have “the others.” You can probably guess the meaning. We use “the others” as a pronoun to talk about a specific group.

  • These people arrived 5 minutes ago, but I don’t know when the others arrived. – In this situation, there are two groups of people. One group arrived 5 minutes ago. The other people arrived at a different time. It is clear that I am talking about people in this sentence, so I don’t need to repeat the word “people.” However, I must use “the others” (plural) because “people” is plural.

Your Turn

Now, it’s time to practice! Click here to take a quiz. Ask your teacher if you have questions about the answers.

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