Another and the other



What is the main difference between "another" and "the other"? When in the text itīs already mentioned one thing, shouldnīt we use "the other" if there are only two things?

Posted 29 December 2001
Yes, use "the other" when there are only two nouns that you are referring to. This is when you use "the other" -- when one noun is the second of two, or the last of any number or amount.

You can use "the other" with singular and plural count nouns, as well as with noncount nouns. Here are some examples:


In South America, there are two countries without coastlines. One is Paraguay. The other is Bolivia.


Chile is the only country in South America that does not border on Brazil. All the other countries in South America do border on Brazil.


The information from the CNN correspondent was accurate, but the other information - from an inexperienced reporter - was totally false.

In sentence (a), "the other" acts as a pronoun; you could also use "the other" to modify "country - "the other country" - with "other" as an adjective.

In sentence (b), "the other" modifies "countries," so "other" is an adjective. (Note the singular form of the adjective modifying "countries.") It would also be possible to use a pronoun here, so the sentence could also be: "All the others in South America do border on Brazil." Note that the plural pronoun form of "others" ends in -s, while the adjective form does not.

In sentence (c), "the other information" contains the adjective "other" which modifies the noncount noun "information." You could theoretically omit the word "information," in which case the pronoun "other" (with "the") would appear alone: "the other . was totally false." However, with noncount nouns, "the other" is much more frequently used as an adjective ("the other information") than as a pronoun ("the other").

As for "another," it is used with singular count nouns only. It refers to one noun out of a possibility of many:


Several countries in South America border on the Pacific Ocean. One is Chile. Another is Peru. Another is Ecuador. Another is.


There are many reasons for the success of the project. One reason is the thoughtful planning that went into it. Another reason is the timing. Another is the generous funding. Another is.

In sentence (d), "another" is a pronoun. You could also say "another country," in which case, "another" would be an adjective.

In sentence (e), "another" appears both as an adjective ("another reason"), and as a pronoun ("another").

Here's something to be careful about:

Do not use "another" with plural count nouns or with noncount nouns. "Another people" and "another information" do not exist. Use "other" instead as an adjective, and "others" as a pronoun:


Some people are happy with the new euro; other people are not.


Some people are happy with the new euro; others are not.


Some information about the disaster has been confirmed; other information is regarded as questionable.

Here's another thing to be careful about:

Never use "the" with "another." "The another" does not exist. This is logical, since "the" denotes something specific, and "an" (as in "another") denotes one non-specific thing.


(To see a related comment,

"Any + other + noun," click here.)

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