Nother

Nother is not really a word, but is used informally and only should be used in speech, if at all. We understand what a person means when they say something like, “It was a whole nother thing.” That may work in conversation, but not in writing or any kind of formal communication. In that case, “It was a whole other thing” is what is needed.

Most of us have figured out that the word nother comes from another (with the drop of the first letter), and that another comes from adding an to other. But sometimes when another word wants to make its way into the expression, we rightly say a, but then add the dropped n to other. It seems the n sound just wants to connect with other so much that it insists on connecting itself where it doesn’t belong.

Everyone knows what a person means when they say nother, but we shouldn’t write it down. And really, it makes us sound smarter if we never say it either.

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Couple/couple of

Today’s entry is about the difference between speaking and writing.

Technically, it’s only correct to say couple of and not couple when you write or speak about a couple of things. But when we speak, we often say things like “I saw a couple people I knew from class today.” Or “I think a couple teaspoons will do it.” That’s not accurate, but it’s become acceptable colloquially.

When writing, however, it’s important to use the phrase couple of… when referring to two items. (Of course, when we talk about two people who are in a relationship, we simply call them a couple. That’s not what we’re talking about here.)

So when using the word couple, and describing the couple, we use of with it. Trust me, it sticks out if you don’t!

Regimen vs. Regiment

Today’s entry is often more of a spelling issue than a grammar issue. But a mistake in this regard can be pretty amusing.

A regimen is a systematic plan or regular course of action to achieve a specific goal. Usually we’re talking about eating healthy food, exercising with a certain regularity, or following a plan for taking certain medicines when we use the word. For example,

I follow a daily regimen of exercise and physical therapy to maintain my strength as an athlete.

My condition means I have to follow a particular regimen of this over-priced drug.

A regiment, on the other hand, is a military unit usually made of several large groups of soldiers.

Example: Before the battle, the regiment staked out a strong position behind the hill.

So if you follow a daily regiment, you might get shot in the process.