A whole nother

The common phrase a whole nother, formed by splitting the adjective another, makes no sense from a logical or grammatical standpoint, but it is often used informally or to create a colloquial tone in writing. Because it is informal, the phrase might be considered out of place in any type of serious writing. A whole other makes more sense, and there are one-word equivalents, such as different, separate, and unrelated, that are usually better in formal contexts.

Many writers insert an apostrophe in a whole ‘nother, but this would logically indicate that the writer means a whole another, which makes even less sense than a whole nother.


In these examples, the writers use a whole nother (or a whole ‘nother) to create a light, informal tone:

There’s also a gas/electric hybrid, which is a whole ‘nother animal. [STLToday.com]

But that’s on a whole ‘nother level compared to what it has done to Green, the edgy, arty poster boy for reflective, solemn character studies. [Charleston City Paper]

As the pictures up top and at left attest, he was seeing the puck just fine; stopping it, however, was a whole ‘nother matter. [Edmonton Journal]

16 thoughts on “A whole nother”

  1. Just for the record, on typesetting this article, “‘nother” should be written as “’nother” – note the use of an actual apostrophe on the latter example rather than a single opening quote.

    • Unfortunately, our content management system automatically renders the apostrophe like that and doesn’t offer a way to differentiate the marks. We’ll have to try to find a fix.

    • It seems our content management system automatically renders the apostrophe like that when it’s at the start of a word. We’ll have to look for a fix.

      • The explanation’s not that simple: most (though not all) of the “Till, until, ’til” article has the leading apostrophes rendered correctly.


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