What exactly is the difference between using 'other + noun', 'others' and 'other ones' when referred back to those remaining in a group of something that is already know about?

To shed some light on this question, I would like to know which of the three sentence constructions below sounds most natural to a native speaker and why.

1) Our group is much quieter than the other groups.

2) Our group is much quieter than the other ones.

3) Our group is much quieter than the others.

I have no doubt that the first sentence is correct, and probably the safest one to go with. However, I don't want to repeat a noun that is already mentioned earlier in the sentence. I can't find any errors in the second sentence, but feel that it doesn't sound as natural. As for the third sentence, is 'others' restricted only to 'people' and can't be used for other nouns such as 'group'?

Many thanks

  • 1
    I would say that you're right on all three counts: 1) "Others" applies more to people in general, not groups. 2) The second one is fine. It's precisely what I would say as a (near-)native speaker if I wanted to keep from repeating "groups." 3) The first sentence is the safest when unsure. – Teacher KSHuang Apr 18 '17 at 7:42
  • Thanks for the insight. If I may ask, why do you call yourself a near-native speaker. – JUNCINATOR Apr 18 '17 at 8:56
  • 1
    They are all correct, but 1) exhibits unnecessary repetition of “group(s). ”I would say that 3) is the most natural on the grounds that it is the most succinct. The difference between the three examples is that 2) and 3) avoid unnecessary repetition, while 3) additionally exhibits reduction. 2) uses the noun “ones” to refer to “group”, and thus avoids the repetition of “our group”. 3) reduces “our group” to simply “others”, and hence is the most succinct. – BillJ Apr 18 '17 at 9:04
  • Because English is not my mother tongue -- although by all other accounts, I would consider it so because it is the tongue I know best and it's what I grew up speaking, in an English-speaking environment, with other native speakers (east coast, US). – Teacher KSHuang Apr 18 '17 at 10:05

All of those options are fairly natural, though, as you suspected, the repetition of the noun "group" in the first comes across as a bit awkward. "Others" is certainly not limited to people, and the third option seems like the most likely for a native speaker to produce.


when you use other groups.

it means you are in groups of equal numbers.

Ex: classroom WorkGroups you could use other ones too.

if you use other ones.

it could mean people around you or people you can see close by.

if you use others.

it could mean everyone in the world or school or country

Depends on context.

  • I think you meant context, not contacts – Varun Nair Nov 23 '18 at 14:00

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