I saw a couple of men walking out of the store.

Is it ok to interpret the phrase a couple of men to be 3 or 4 men, instead of only two? OR Does it only mean two, I mean, two man only here?

I think it means two to five, which means it does not mean two only. Could you help me clarify it? Thank you always.


I am a non-native myself, and I want to say it can definitely mean more than 2, and up to 4 at least. But more than 4, I can't be sure. I hear it used a lot by native speakers, and many times it's meant more than just 2.


No. To an English speaker, referring to people, a couple would only describe 2. More than that you would have to say "a few."

However, when referring to items people will sometimes use "a couple" to mean "a few"

EXAMPLE: "I'm going to the grocery store to get a couple of things."

In this case no one assumes you mean exactly 2 items.


Of course it depends on the context and part of speech. As a noun it would mean exactly two. "I saw a couple walking on the beach." As an adjective "I saw a couple of people walking on the sand", it would be 2 to about 5. I would be less likely to say a couple of people if it were five or so people in a tight group than if they were 6 unrelated people.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.