‘A couple’ vs. ‘a couple of’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

Some people will tell you that it’s completely fine to say “a couple things”, others that you cannot use “a couple” without “of” at all. The truth lies somewhere in between.

Although it is quite common to hear expressions like “in a couple hours” and “I saw a couple people” in spoken American English (but not so much in British English), in formal written English (on both sides of the Atlantic), the form with “of” is the only one considered correct, for example:

We will leave in a couple of days. (correct)
We will leave in a couple days. (colloquial American English)

There is one phrase, however, in which “a couple” is always used without “of”, namely “a couple more”. For example:

I need a couple more cups of coffee. (correct)
I need a couple of more cups of coffee. (wrong)

This article was based on my guide to the most common mistakes in English, which explains many similar topics. Why don’t you check it out?

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