What’s the difference between another, other, others and the other
ANOTHER vs OTHER vs OTHERS vs THE OTHER
- Do you have another question? – singular and general
- Do you have any other questions? – plural
- I prefer the other one – singular and specific
- My boss and your boss really hate one another – a shared condition
- We need to think of one other possible solution – an alternative
- I like one or two of his songs but the others are awful – the rest
1. They can be adjectives in sentences
One girl was wearing a white dress. The other girl was wearing a red one.
(‘Other’ is describing or qualifying the noun ‘girl.’ So, it’s an adjective.)
- Another girl was wearing a pink T-shirt.
(‘Another’ is qualifying ‘girl’ so it’s an adjective; only used with singular nouns because it means ‘one other.’]
- Some girls were playing soccer. The other girls were lying in the sun.
[‘Other’ is still an adjective. Adjectives are invariable, so they never change for singular or plural. In this case, ‘girls’ is plural, but ‘other’ doesn’t change because it’s an adjective.]
Other, the other, another are adjectives when they are describing a noun.
2. They can be pronouns in sentences
In the following sentences we don’t want to repeat the word ‘girl’ so we use a pronoun. If we
refer to one girl we use ‘other’, and if there are more girls we use the plural ‘others.’ ‘Another’
means one more, so it’s only used to replace a singular noun.
- One girl was wearing a white dress. The other was wearing a red one. [The other girl]
- And another was wearing a pink T-shirt. [One more girl]
- Some girls were playing soccer. The others were lying in the sun. [The other girls]
(‘The others’ is replacing ‘the other girls,’ so it’s a pronoun. Pronouns change for singular or
Other, the other, another are pronouns when they are replacing a noun. They can be singular or plural.
3. ‘Others’ vs. ‘the others’
Both are pronouns, that is, they stand for a noun. ‘Others’ is more vague, we are not determining how many others, or which other ones. ‘The others’ is more specific; it stands for all the rest.
- Some people prefer vanilla ice cream. Others prefer chocolate. (It’s vague. We are not specifying how many others.)
- Some people decided to go to the beach. The others stayed at home. (All the rest. The ones that didn’t go to the beach.)