Thursday, August 11, 2011

Confusing words - different, other, another and next

Sometimes students can get a bit confused with the words: (a) different, another, (the) other and (the) next. Try the first exercise, then we'll take a look at the differences, with some more exercises and a story.

Click and Drop - Where you see this sign, mouse over for instructions

Exercise 1 - Fill the gaps using the words in the box.

different   ·   another one   ·   the other   ·   the next   ·   other   ·   next   ·   another
My friend Rachel and I wanted to visit one of our (1) friends, who lived in (2) part of town. Where she lives is quite (3) from our part of town, lots of trees and parks and so on.
So anyway, we walked down to the bottom of the street and waited at the pedestrian crossing, as the bus stop was on (4) side of the road. It was one of these crossings where there are (5) lights for pedestrians and cyclists. But just as we were about to cross the road, we saw our bus, the 27, come up the road, stop and move off again.
'Don't worry', I said, as we crossed the road, 'there'll be (6) along soon'. When we got to the bus stop, there were a couple of (7) people, who hadn't got on the 27, so presumably they were waiting for a (8) bus.
But when we looked at the timetable we saw that (9) 27 wasn't for (10) fifteen minutes. 'Why don't we get a (11) bus? There's a 31 in five minutes', suggested Rachel. 'But none of (12) buses go anywhere near where we want to go.' I answered, 'We'll just have to wait for (13) 27'.
'I can't be bothered waiting here for the (14) fifteen minutes', said Rachel, 'How far is it to (15) bus stop?' - 'There's (16) about half a mile up the road', I answered. 'So let's walk to (17) stop then, it's better than waiting here'.
So we set off up the hill. After a only couple of minutes, Rachel asked, 'How much further?' 'Just (18) couple of hundred yards', I said, and for (19) few minutes neither of us spoke, as it really was quite a steep hill. Finally we arrived at the bus stop. 'At last', sighed Rachel. And in the far distance we could see our bus, stopped at (20) bus stop. All we had to do was wait (21) couple of minutes, and we'd be on our way.

different (adjective)

The word different stresses that two or more people or things are not the same It is the opposite of similar. It can be used with a preposition when making comparisons, or it can come before or after a noun. Notice the use of different prepositions in British English (BrE) and American English (AmE). This is the usage my (British) dictionary gives:
  • She is quite different from her sister. (Both BrE and AmE)
  • This is very different to what I was told earlier. (BrE)
  • He is different than I remember. (AmE)
The use of from is most common in both branches of English, and is the only one that all authorities accept as correct. The use of the other two prepositions is the subject of much debate on language websites. (Many American authorities do not accept than as being correct). So as a learner, if you use from, you'll keep everyone happy. But recognise that native speakers might use one of the other two, especially informally.
The use of than seems to be more acceptable, both to the British and to some American authorities when it is used with a clause. Compare these two sentences:
  • The town is very different now than it was twenty years ago.
  • The town is very different now from what it was twenty years ago.
  • The town is very different now to what it was twenty years ago. (BrE)
We can use different both before and after a noun to say that this person or thing is not the same as one or ones just mentioned.

Exercise 2a - Match the beginnings and endings.

1. The other wines were OK.aThat's life on the road, for you.
2. I don't like this room.bIt looks different somehow.
3. I'm bored of the local restaurants.cBut this one tastes quite different.
4. What have you done to your room?dCould you give us a different one?
5. Six people witnessed the event.eLet's try something different for a change.
6. Every night a different town!fEach one had a different story.
Note - when we use the adverb quite with different, it means completely, not a little.
We can use different before plural nouns to say that there are separate and individual types, etc.

Exercise 2b - Match the beginnings and endings.

1. They sell fortyasix different colours.
2. Scotland and Englandbon several different websites.
3. It has now happened oncin several different versions.
4. You can buy these shoes inddifferent types of pasta.
5. I looked it upehave different legal systems.
6. This tablet computer comesfthree different occasions.

other (determiner, adjective)

This has several uses:
  1. To talk about people or things that are additional to those already mentioned:
    There were Tom and Harry and some other people I didn't know.
  2. To talk about the second of two people or things:
    The bus stop was on the other side of the street.
  3. To talk about the remaining people or things in a group:
    I'll have to wear these shoes. All my other ones are dirty.
  4. To talk about the opposite direction:
    We saw a bus coming the other way.
Note 1 - In uses 2 and 3, we use the, my, your etc before other. In the last use we use the.
Note 2 - Sometimes we use (the) other(s) as pronouns.
  • The bus is about to go. Where on earth are the others? (i.e. the other people)
  • I'll have to wear this tie. None of the others match this shirt. (i.e. the other ones)
  • Her children seem to be rather tidier than some others I could mention! (i.e. the child(ren) this person is talking to)

another (determiner)

The word another is simply an + other. It can be used:
  1. To talk about an extra person or thing:
    There'll be another bus in a few minutes.
  2. Or one extra group or quantity of people or things:
    The bus stop is just another hundred yards.
  3. It can also be used to mean a different person or thing:
    We could go another day, instead.
  4. And to mean a person or thing of a very similar type:
    This is going to be another of your stories, isn't it?
Note 1 - Sometimes there is little or no difference between another ... and a different ...
  • We could try another bus.
  • We could try a different bus.
Note 2 - We can also use another as a pronoun.
  • These biscuits are great. Can I have another.
  • If you don't like this room, we could ask for another.

Exercise 3 - Fill the gaps with other(s), the other(s) or another.

others   ·   the other   ·   another   ·   the others   ·   other
1.Do you know who I saw day? Mark. You know, Mark Jones.
2.Would you like cup of coffee?
3.There are only two cakes left. I'll have this one and you can have .
4.I know Pete of course, but who are all those people?
5.That's enough for today. We'll finish it some day.
6.In that last sentence we could have also said ' day'.
7.We were out hill-walking with some friends from college.
8.'Where are ?' 'It's OK, they're not far behind.'
9.'Come on you people, it's just mile to the top.'
10.All animals are equal, but some are more equal than .
11.Don't worry darling, we'll just be in the room.
12.We'll put this table on the side of the room.
13.'Do you know the one about ...' 'Oh no! Not of your corny jokes.'
14.We're going in the wrong direction. We need to go way.
15.These shoes are too small. Have you got any ones in the same style.

One another, each other, themselves

Notice the difference between one another /each other and themselves:
  • Sandy taught Pierre to speak Danish.
  • Pierre taught Sandy to speak French.
  • They taught each other (or one another) to speak their respective languages.

  • Sandy taught herself to speak Russian.
  • Pierre taught himself to speak German.
  • They each taught themselves to speak another language.
Each other and one another are used more or less interchangeably.

various (adjective)

This means several different
  • This phone comes in various colours.
  • We can do this in various ways.
  • She was attracted to the job for various reasons.
Note - In the first two examples we could probably just say different instead of various. But if we did that in the last example, the meaning would change, so if we wanted to say different, we would need to add several
  • She was attracted to the job for several different reasons.

next (determiner, adjective)

The word next, usually used after the, is used to talk about somebody or something coming immediately after somebody or something else, especially when they are part of a sequence.
  • When's the next bus?
  • Let's walk to the next bus stop.
  • The next five minutes were the longest wait in my life.
  • One moment the sun's shining, (the) next thing (you know) it's pouring with rain.
  • Be more careful (the) next time.
  • We're in the next room. (e.g. in a hotel)
Note 1 - We very often use next to talk about time - next week etc. But be careful. Firstly we often use this ... to refer to days in the current week, and next ... to refer to days in the following week. Let's say today is Monday 1st January. So I might say this Thursday to mean Thursday 4th January. Now if somebody (on Monday) says,'See you next Friday, it's not always clear whether they mean Friday 5th January or Friday 12th January (i.e. Friday of next week). If you're not sure, just ask. We often do.
Note 2 - Secondly there's a difference between next week, month etc, and the next week, month etc. Next week is the following calendar week, i.e. Monday-Sunday or whatever. But the next week is the next seven days from today. The same difference exists between last week, year etc, and the last week, year etc.
  • I'm moving to France next year. (2012 - this is 2011)
  • I hope to move to France within the next year. (Within the next 12 months)
  • We went to Spain last year. (2010)
  • We've been to Spain three times in the last year. (In the last 12 months)
Note 3 - See how this affects the tense you use with (the) last ...

Putting it all together

Before you start, make sure you know what these words mean. Click on the words to automatically look them up in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. This will also paste the word into the dictionary feature at the top the right. So you can check with another dictionary if you wish.
youth hostel (n)Bed-and-Breakfast (n)
stream (n)peak (n)
ridge (n)slope (n)
sheer (adj)plain sailing (idiom)
avail (n)trudge (v)

Exercise 4a Fill the gaps using the words in the box.

1.We're going on an expedition to the hills week. I hope it's not like the last time, when a few of us decided to go youth-hostelling in the Highlands for the weekend. When we arrived at the village, the hostel was full and they told us there wasn't for twenty miles. Eventually we found a couple of Bed-and-Breakfasts. There were only two in the village. Four of us got rooms in one, and managed to find somewhere in .
2.The owners of our one were Danish, and breakfast was certainly from anything I'd had before - open rye bread sandwiches with kinds of toppings. And three kinds of cheese. After that I couldn't have eaten thing.
3.But the rest of the day was not going to be quite so perfect. We spent the twenty minutes waiting for before we could start up the hill. Eventually we moved off. The first two miles took us gently through a forest, but the with two the track started to get a bit steep. And then the mist came down and we soon got lost. In the mist, one mountain track doesn't look very from . And although I knew how to use a map and compass, some of weren't so competent. Or particularly confident in my skills, I think.

Exercise 4b Fill the gaps using the words in the box.

1.'I've got an idea', said one of them. 'The stream we come to, we'll follow it down the hill, and that will take us down to the valley.' 'Has anyone got any ideas?', I asked. Nobody had. But before we could find a stream, the mist suddenly cleared and the sun came out. This put a perspective on things, and we started up the hill again. After an hour so we reached the top of the first peak. Only three peaks to do, I said. We were doing a ridge walk, you see. Well, were happier now, and we reached two peaks quite quickly.
2.But the last one proved a bit of a challenge. There was a narrow path along the ridge, leading to the peak. On one side there was a sheer drop to the valley below, on a grassy slope, unbroken for some 500 metres. 'I don't think I can do that.' someone said. 'Nor can I', voice was heard to say. 'But it's only two hundred metres along that path and we're at the peak, and after that it's all plain sailing.' But to no avail. I suppose people have ideas about what's safe and what's not safe. And in the mountains, you can't really be too careful.
3.So of course we had to turn round, and trudge back in direction, back the way we had come. And for hour or so, nobody spoke until we saw, coming the other way, group of walkers, who we naturally said 'Good day' to. After that the mood lightened and I said, 'OK, today was a bit of a disaster, but I'm sure there'll be .' Well day it poured with rain all day, so that wasn't going to be one of them. And that's why we're off again week. But to a village this time. And we've booked rooms. That's thing I learned from that weekend.


  • 1 - 1. other, 2. another, 3. different, 4. the other, 5. different, 6. another one, 7. other, 8. different, 9. the next, 10. different, 11. the other, 12. the next, 13. next, 14. the next, 15. another one, 16. the next, 17. another, 18. the next, 19. the other, 20. another
  • 2a - 1. c, 2. d, 3. e, 4. b, 5. f, 6. a
  • 2b - 1. d, 2. e, 3. f, 4. a, 5. 6. b, c
  • 3 - 1. the other, 2. another, 3. the other, 4. other, 5. other, 6. another, 7. other, 8. the others, 9. another, 10. others, 11. other, 12. other, 13. another, 14. the other, 15. other
  • 4a - 1 another, 2 the others, 3 the other, 4 different, 5 various, 6 different, 7 another, 8 next, 9 the others, 10 the next, 11 different, 12 another, 13 the others
  • 4b - 1 other, 2 different, 3 another, 4 the others, 5 the next, 6 the other, 7 another, 8 another, 9 different, 10 different, 11 the other, 12 the next, 13 another, 14 others, 15 next, 16 next, 17 different, 18 another

Printer friendly post

You can make a teacher copy with answers by clicking on 'Show All'. Make sure you 'Clear All' before printing student copies. Or you can print normally and the answers will appear on a separate page (Page 9). The lesson is on Pages 1-8. I strongly recommend doing a Print Preview first. You might want to change your margins and you certainly won't want to print every page.

No comments: