Many times in English, native speakers know which word to use but have no idea why. If something is confusing for you as a learner of English, and the English native speaker can’t give you an explanation, it becomes even more confusing! When you can’t find someone to give you an answer, you can become frustrated and easily give up on English. And we don’t want that for you!
So let’s look at one of those confusing sets of words. The difference between “another” and “other” can be confusing since the two words are so similar. The word “other” can literally be found inside the word “another”. Native English speakers switch between these two words without thinking about which one to use. If you pay attention and listen to lots of English, you may be able to do the same without learning the difference. But if you’re like most people, you need to learn the difference in order to know which word to use properly.
The word “another” is used for singular and countable nouns. It almost always comes before a noun. And it refers to something that isn’t specific – simply another something.
Look at the following examples to notice which word has to come after the word “another”.
- Can you give me another piece of cake?
- We can do it another day.
- The two girls still have to catch another train in order to get home.
- I asked for another sandwich.
- You can sleep for another hour.
Notice that in these sentences, “another” always comes before a noun (piece, day, train, sandwich, hour) and the noun is singular and countable.
The following examples are INCORRECT.
- Can you give me another pieces of cake?
- We can do it another days.
- The two girls still have to catch another trains in order to get home.
- I asked for another sandwiches.
- You can sleep for another hours.
Notice that in the incorrect examples, the nouns are plural. “Another” always refers to one thing (singular).
The word “other” is used for plural or uncountable nouns. It almost always comes before a noun. And the noun does not refer to something specific.
Look at the following examples to notice the situations when to use “other”.
- Other people don’t always notice me.
- Steve has other information.
- We can visit my other daughters.
Notice that in these examples, “other” always comes before a noun (people, information, daughters) and the nouns are either plural (people, daughters) or uncountable (information).
Look at the following examples to notice the situations when NOT to use “other”.
- Another people don’t always notice me.
- Steve has another information.
- We can visit another daughters.
Notice that in the incorrect examples, “another” doesn’t make sense because the sentences refer to more than one thing.
So remember: “Another” is used for 1) singular and 2) countable nouns. “Other” is used for 1) plural or 2) uncountable nouns.