Another vs. Different

“Failure is another stepping-stone to greatness.”

Oprah Winfrey, an American media executive

“What makes a child gifted and talented may not always be good grades in school, but a different way of looking at the world and learning.”

Chuck Grassley, an American politician

ANOTHER

  1. Another = additional: a. I would like another cup of tea (the same as the one I’m drinking now, one more cup of tea). b. She wants another baby (one more baby). c. Give me another 5 minutes. d. Continue down the same road for another 10 kilometers. e. And another thing – what do you think about these wallpapers? f. Oh no, not another financial crisis!
  2. Another = additional (+ different from something/someone that already exists): a. Tomorrow is another day (the phrase is used when something bad has happened for saying that it is possible that the future will be better). b. I need another word with a similar meaning. c. He’s in another part of the word now. e. Shall we go to the cinema? – Another time. Tonight I’m going to be very busy. Remember! If “another” means “some other“, “different form something/someone”, you can use “different” instead of “another”: I would like to try on another shirt (some other shirt, not this one) = I would like to try on a different shirt. 
  3. Another + the name of a well-known person/place/event: a. You’ll never be another Madonna (you’ll never be like Madonna) b. They call him another Elvis (he’s got qualities similar to those of Elvis Presley). This war might become another Vietnam.

Note that “another” is usually followed by a singular countable noun (the exception is “another” before a word referring to a distance, length fo time, or other amount, e.g. “another 5 minutes”), and “other” is usually followed by a plural noun (e.g. “I don’t like other people telling me what to do”). More about “other” and “another’ is here.

DIFFERENT

  1. Different = not the same: a. This hairstyle makes you look so different! b. Why do you think you are so different from your classmates? c. The phones are different in color. d. My point of view is slightly different.
  2. Different (+ noun) = separate, distinct: a. 10 different people told me something had changed in me. b. Different regions of the country have different problems.  
  3. Different = unusual, not like others: a. I want something different. Perhaps I should have my hair cut. b. This vegetable really tastes interesting and different. 

COMMON PHRASES

  • That’s different (used when you are explaining that something changes a situation): You always let her use your car! – That’s different! She is 30 and you are just 17! She’s an experienced driver and you are not. 
  • To be on different wavelengths = to have a different opinion/feelings about something: I feel like we are on completely different wavelengths. Sometimes it seems like we speak a different language
  • That’s another story (used to avoid talking in detail about something): Your grandmother and I met 50 years ago. The weather was great on that summer day, and your uncle John had just got married, but that’s another story…
  • To be in another world – to be lost in thoughts or daydreams and thus oblivious to one’s surroundings: Look at Alex. He’s in another world! – You see, we shouldn’t even wonder how he comes up with those great ideas for his novels. That’s how he does it. 
  • If it’s not one thing, it’s another! – many unfortunate things keep happening: First I lose my wallet, then someone steals your bike! If it’s not one thing, it’s another!
  • Somehow or another/other (usually other) – somehow, by some means: I’ll make my dream come true somehow or other! Somehow or other we have to start the car!
  • A totally different ballgame – a situation that is completely different from what one is used to or expecting: They were so happy as a dating couple, but living together is a totally different ballgame. 
  • To sing a different song – the change one’s opinion, attitude, behavior: You always said you liked the countryside more than the city. Now you are singing a different tune. Why?
  • Ask me another (used when one doesn’t know the answer to a question): Why is Becky single? Why is John still here? I have no idea. Ask me another!