During my English test, I wrote the following sentence:

There’re many people in the park. Some are walking; the others are flying kites.

My English teacher says that “the others” is wrong, and the correct word is “others” because “the people in the park” is too broad. Is he right? When should I use “others” instead of “the others”?

  • 5
    I know this isn't the subject of the question, but let me add that "there're" isn't really a word anyone uses or writes down. I guess maybe it's legitimate but I did a double-take when I saw it. Nearly everyone would just say "there are." Jan 11, 2021 at 21:32
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    @DanielMcLaury Actually, it's often spoken, and sometimes used in written dialog to indicate the shortening of the expression when spoken. english.stackexchange.com/questions/12865/…
    – barbecue
    Jan 12, 2021 at 20:32
  • @barbecue1: Even the people who claim to say it out loud are saying it looks weird written out, and there's some disagreement there as to whether it's even possible to say out loud. So I think it's at least worth avoiding unless you're sufficiently experienced with English to have a pretty strong opinion in favor of using it. Jan 12, 2021 at 22:04

1 Answer 1


Both are grammatically correct, but the meanings are different.

Some are walking: the others are flying kites.

The use of the definite article the others means that all of the people who are not walking are flying their kites: if 70% are walking, the other 30% are flying kites.

Some are walking: others are flying kites.

Without a definite article, others means that some of the people who are not walking are flying their kites: if 70% are walking, 30% or fewer of the people are flying kites.

  • 8
    +1, though for the first meaning I think that "the rest" would be more idiomatic than "the others".
    – ruakh
    Jan 11, 2021 at 22:26
  • 1
    @ruakjh, This Ngram graph shows that "the others are" is about twice as common as "the rest are". books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – JavaLatte
    Jan 12, 2021 at 9:11
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    I'm not saying that "the others" is never idiomatic in any context; only that in this sentence, with the meaning you describe, "the others" is less idiomatic than "the rest".
    – ruakh
    Jan 12, 2021 at 18:11
  • ngram frequency isn't meaningful for spoken English.
    – barbecue
    Jan 12, 2021 at 20:33
  • @barbecue, "isn't meaningful for spoken English" is a bit strong. "is more reliable for written English" is probably closer to the truth. Anyway, the OP's question is a about awritten test, so NGram evidence should be admissible even by you.
    – JavaLatte
    Jan 13, 2021 at 8:47

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