Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Nother: A Violence to the English Language

Over the past year I have graded several hundred freshman essays. While there is much that irritates me about freshman writing, nothing is worse than their love of the word "nother." Here is the word used in a sentence:

"The unfairness of the current minimum wage is a whole nother issue."

Chances are you have used this abomination yourself. It is fairly common in American conversation. I am sure a few of you have even used it more than once in a day. Admittedly, I have used it more than once in a day as well--but only in conversation. Nother, like the word crap, should only be used in conversation. Unlike crap, though, it should never be written--even in informal writing, like e-mails or post-it notes.

When you think about it, nother works fine in conversation. For the most part, it slips through conversation unnoticed. But when you put it on paper, its complete ridiculousness shines through. Think about it. Write it out yourself and tell me it doesn't look as fake as George Washington's teeth.


It sounds like something out of a second rate fantasy novel: "Suddenly, Beoryin peered through his shimmering visor and descried the glacial gaze of a small, furry nother."

Clearly, nother works better as a made-up creature than a made-up word. Please folks, the next time you are tempted to use nother in written communication, do yourself a favor and use its more correct alternative: another. It's not that hard, really. All you have to do is add an "a." And don't make things worse by writing "a whole another." That's counterproductive. One might even say it makes a whole nother problem.

(See how stupid it looks?)


  1. So...if it shouldn't be used in post-its or e-mails...should it be allowed on blogs? Or is that a whole nother issue?

  2. I already regret saying this, but you are actually fairly entertaining to read. I never thought that reading posts about words like "crap" and "nother" would be that interesting. What about saying "a whole other issue"? Is "other" appropriate, or should I still have used "another"?

  3. "A whole other issue" is probably permissible, but it still sounds stupid. If I were you, I would use "another." You can't go wrong with another.

  4. Oh Scott - I think you are in the right profession.