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!


2 thoughts on “Couple/couple of

  1. Wait….The word “couple” means two. “Few” means three or more. But they are both multiples treated as solid blocks, single multiform objects. “They make a nice couple.” “This is a pair of socks.” “This is a nice pile of rubble.”

    We say “a couple of people” , a pair of goats, ….but we don’t say “a duo of people”,

    Neither do we say “a few of people”. We do say “a trio of people”. A herd of cows.

    This whole thing could scramble a few brains.


    • Seairon, thanks so much for the comment. I love it when people engage!

      I think what can get confusing is that “couple” can mean two people when used as a noun, but when used in describing two objects or people, what means “two” in that instance is “couple of.” “Few” and “several” are used alone before nouns, without the “of”. I’m glad I’m a native English speaker and don’t have to learn all this from scratch. It’s hard enough learning French!


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