Thread: A Couple of = 2 or several

1. A Couple of = 2 or several

Hi,

Does "a couple of" as in "a couple of days" or "a couple of months" really mean two, or does it mean several?

So, See you in a couple of months = in a few months or in 2 months?

Thanks :)

2. Re: A Couple of = 2 or several

It has the connotation of uncertainty. So it may be two or it may be more than two.

3. Re: A Couple of = 2 or several

As I know it:

"a couple" means two.

"few" means three

"some" means undetermined

4. Re: A Couple of = 2 or several

Originally Posted by susiedqq
As I know it:

"a couple" means two.

"few" means three

"some" means undetermined
You'd need an 'a' with 'few', would you not, Susie, to get the meaning you want.

I agree with both you and mostly with Anglika. In the situation she described, I'd say that 'a couple' isn't necessarily meant to be dead on exact but I don't believe it goes on indefinitely.

'some' isn't in the same range as the others, to my mind.

a couple = 2

several +5 or 6

quite a few = something higher

many = something even higher

countless/innumerable = LOTS

I think that these can morph depending on the situation, the actual event that one is discussing.

5. Re: A Couple of = 2 or several

This will only be clear when someone offers:

Take some candy . . .
Take a few pieces of candy . . .
Take a couple of pieces of candy . . .

Then we might hear a discussion on what each word really means!

6. Re: A Couple of = 2 or several

emmm, I'm even more confused now :P
But thanks everyone anyway :)

7. Re: A Couple of = 2 or several

Sorry we have all confused you.

Basically "a couple of" can be any number, depending on the full context. It indicates an undefined or uncertain number.

If someone says "Take a couple of sweets/pieces of candy", it is not restricting you to two pieces, but allowing you to take a small quantity.

If someone says "I'll see you in a couple of weeks", you know they are not saying in exactly two weeks, but at some time in the not too distant future.

Hope this makes things a little clearer!

8. Re: A Couple of = 2 or several

Originally Posted by Anglika
Sorry we have all confused you.

Basically "a couple of" can be any number, depending on the full context. It indicates an undefined or uncertain number.

If someone says "Take a couple of sweets/pieces of candy", it is not restricting you to two pieces, but allowing you to take a small quantity.

I don't completely agree, Anglika. Allowed that these are words that denote a certain indefiniteness. I'd say that this indefiniteness is used as a measure of politeness. It wouldn't seem polite when offering to stipulate an exact number.

But 'a couple' can definitely mean 2 and 2 only.

A: Take a couple of candies.

B: Takes 4 or 5.

A: I said "A couple".

If someone says "I'll see you in a couple of weeks", you know they are not saying in exactly two weeks, but at some time in the not too distant future.

This could be a more indefinite time frame or it could be understood to be right around two weeks.

Hope this makes things a little clearer!
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9. Re: A Couple of = 2 or several

Perhaps, Ducklet Cat, you could let us know if you still have any confusion.
To summarize for you:
When we say about two people, "They are a couple", we mean they are in a relationship together eg boyfriend and girlfriend. There are two people.
If someone close in one's family died, and the boss said, "Take a couple of weeks off", the person would take that to mean "two weeks."
Where the meaning starts to change depends on the social situation. As Anglika said, if someone says, I'll see you in a couple of weeks, "couple' here is less precise. It could mean two weeks, it could mean two-and-a-half weeks, or even three weeks.

OK?

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