4

I have just imparted to you two pieces of advice. Whether you will eventually choose one over the other is a matter of personal choice, so good luck.
(from a radio show)

What is this "the other?" Isn't it supposed to be "another?"

  • Why should it be "another"? He/She has imparted two pieces of advice. Either you choose the one, or you choose the other. – mic Dec 12 '14 at 9:14
  • Can you tell us something about the two pieces of advice? – Ben Kovitz Dec 12 '14 at 9:16
0

In your context I think both options would go:

chose one over the other

expresses a specific alternative, while

chose one over another

expresses a different alternative.

10

Suppose I show my son two slices of pie:

enter image description here

I might say:

You can choose one or the other – I'll eat whichever one you don't want.

(I can say "the other" when there's only two choices; "the other" in that context means "the other choice – or, "the other piece of pie.")

Now let's assume there are more than two choices:

enter image description here

In this case, I might say:

Would you like some cherry pie? Or would you like to choose another?

(We use "another" when there is more than one alternative; it mean "an other alternative.")

Because the radio host mentioned two choices, you could choose one or the other.

  • Also when no alternatives have been specified, you would use "another". – starsplusplus Dec 12 '14 at 10:23
  • Right, because there are an unlimited number of other choices – at least theortetically. – J.R. Dec 12 '14 at 10:39
7

No, it's not supposed to be "another". They actually left out the word 'one'--it's understood by native speakers. See below.

I have just imparted to you two pieces of advice. Whether you will eventually choose one over the other [one] is a matter of personal choice, so good luck.

"Another" is the contracted form of "an other". "A/an" are indefinite article; "the" is the definite article. Let's look at your sentence again.

I have just imparted to you two pieces of advice. Whether you will eventually choose one over the other [one] is a matter of personal choice, so good luck.

Here, "choose one over the other [one]" refers to the two pieces of advice the speaker gave you. You and the speaker both know what that advice is, so both of you can think of the advice as defined.

We usually use indefinite articles (a/an) before introducing/talking about a subject and then use definite articles (the) once the subject has been introduced. In your example, the advice has been given and discussed, so the speaker is using the definite article 'the' to refer to the advice he gave.

Now let's replace "the other [one]" with "another":

I have just imparted to you two pieces of advice. Whether you will eventually choose one over another is a matter of personal choice, so good luck.

The meaning has changed. Now you might choose my advice or you might choose the advice someone else gave you--advice I don't know about or don't know what is. You have another piece of advice that is undefined to the speaker.

  • I'd argue that the difference in meaning would like with the definite/indefinite article. "The other" piece of advice is the other one I mentioned. "An other" (which 'another' is a contraction of) is advice someone else gave that I'm not aware of. To keep the same meaning, it couldn't be "an other". – miltonaut Dec 12 '14 at 9:17
  • 1
    I do that ALL the time. ^_^ I probably should have included my comment in my answer. I'll go back and add it. – miltonaut Dec 12 '14 at 9:18
  • No, that's correct, but it's a different use from what you initially asked about. At 2:30, he uses the "or the other" construction you first asked about. – miltonaut Dec 12 '14 at 9:28
  • No, it doesn't. As a stand-alone sentence, it's fine. But within the context of the paragraph, it's wrong. – miltonaut Dec 12 '14 at 9:44
1

The answer is right there in the word: "the other" vs. "an other". The "the" refers to a specific other object, while "an" refers to an unspecified other, which may or may not be there, may or may not be one of a group of these other things.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy