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So the deal is that I understand the difference between another and the other when they are alone: the other means the exact one while another isn't that specific. BUT is the difference the same when using the expressions "one after another" and "one after the other"?

They left one after another.

They left one after the other. (Or does this mean there were only two people?)

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  • It's the difference between "an" and "the," "another" meaning "an other." Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 1:29

3 Answers 3

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I agree that these essentially mean the same thing.

However, a very careful speaker might use

one after another

to imply a collection greater than two, and

one after the other

to imply a collection of two.

“The” other clearly indicates two in distinction to “the others.”

“An” other vaguely indicates an indeterminate number.

This certainly does not indicate a rule. It may just be a personal quirk.

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Both these expressions idiomatically mean exactly the same thing, that any number of people or things went in a series, one at a time, each following the previous.

Cambridge dictionary states this:

one after another
(also one after the other)
many, in a series

Neither variation suggests how many are in the sequence, or limit it to a number.

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'One after another' and 'one after the other' mean the same.

One person after another, One after another of my friends,

If events/actions happen one after the other/one after another, they happen without much time between them.

'One after another'/'one after the other' - many, in a series, (each one in a continuing series)

one problem after another, One after another storm, ...chocolates one after the other.

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