Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
that's a whole other story

Have you heard people use the phrase “that’s a different story” in English?

Do you wonder how this works in conversation or when you should use it?

This is one of those phrases that can be used in a variety of different ways, and it can even help with connection.

We’re going to look at the various ways you can use this phrase, others like it, and what these can add to conversation and help you to make connections.

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Understanding A Common Phrase

You have probably heard somebody use the phrase “that’s a different story.”

Lindsay recently heard a student use this phrase and she was so impressed.

It’s great to make episodes like this because it helps to bring the listeners exactly what is needed.

Lindsay’s ears perk up when she hears a student like you use a phrase like this–and we want this to have the same impact on you when you hear others speak.

So what does the expression “that’s a different story” mean in conversation?

It means that something is even more extreme, or just not what was once thought.

It could be better or worse, but it shows an extreme or significant difference from what you originally thought.

In the example that Lindsay refers to, she heard a student say “that’s a different story” when talking about distance to family.

She thought that her family lived somewhere in NY, perhaps a little further from where she lives.

She said “it must be tough if they are not right near you.”

Lindsay said “oh no, NY would be close, but family lives in DC!”

She said in return “that’s a different story.”

You can see the extreme or significant difference in this example and the way that this expression is used.

You can use either “that’s a different story” or “that’s another story.” Both of these work well in conversation.

So this phrase works really well to convey some sort of extreme, and so you will hear it used a lot.

Looking At Some Examples

This is one of those phrases where it can help to see some examples of how it may work in conversation.

Let’s look at a few mini role play or examples to see this expression and how it can work.

First example shows an extreme in the number of a potential quantity of something.

Lindsay: “Wow, don’t you have like fifteen papers to grade this weekend, Michelle?”

Michelle: “I wish! More like 50!”

Lindsay: “That’s a different story!”

Another example is about how hard somebody works or how different it may be from what is expected–this is often about perception.

Michelle: “During the school year she works so hard.”

Lindsay: “Yeah, but you should see her in the summer. That’s a different story.”

In the following example, you can see that there can be a change of subject or a different path in the story.

In this case you may touch on it briefly in conversation because it’s too much to go into at the moment.

Michelle: “So anyway, I was speaking to Mark the other day, who by the way is moving all the way to Alaska in October, but that’s a different story!”

Lindsay: “Wait what?”

Another example of this shows a longer story where you add in this phrase along the way.

Lindsay: “So I got to the station–I lost my shoe, but that’s another story– and I called her and told her to meet me there. Turns out, she wasn’t even CLOSE to leaving.”

Michelle: “Oh man!”

You might also hear “that’s another story for another day” which is very closely associated and works quite well here.

These examples can really help to show you how to use this phrase.

There are various approaches to this and so there are several different times when this phrase works well.

Think of circumstances or conversations in your life where you could use this and it may open you up to trying out a new phrase.

Adding More Intensity With One Phrase

This phrase really helps you in conversation when you want to put a bit of emphasis on things.

These are so useful for making things more  intense, and perhaps that’s the most useful way to add this to conversation.

This sort of phrase is great for talking about things that are different in a more interesting way.

They help to show that things were not the way that you thought they would be.

You show that there may have been an assumption and that things were not how they seemed.

These are really useful for connection though you may not recognize that readily.

They show you care, or that you are putting off telling a story.

The meanings are a bit different, but listen to how people use them and you can get a sense for when they work well.

They can even be used in a humorous way, and that leads to a really fun connection!

This is the best type of phrase when it can be used in various ways, and help to lead you to connections.

Other Ways To Say This Sort of Thing

Though “that’s another story” works well in conversation, there are other similar phrases to use instead.

It’s great to have a few similar phrases available to you, and then you can use what feels natural in each conversation.

Here are a few other ways to express the same sort of thing.

  • A whole other ballgame: This is more like the first way but just a little bit different. Some people say a whole different or whole new ballgame, or even a totally different ballgame. It’s a sports reference but it’s not about sports. It can help to portray the same thing and offer that contrast. You might say “I didn’t study hard, but once I got to grad school it was a whole other ballgame.”
  • A different ball of wax: You don’t necessarily hear this one used as much. It may be a bit older in its usage, but it definitely still exists. This portrays the same point, and you can almost gives you a sort of visual. You could say something like “I thought I knew how hard school was, but getting a PhD is a different ball of wax.”
  • I’ll get into that later: This works in the examples where you have so much more to add to a story. You are telling somebody something and there’s so much more information that you may want to save it for another time. You might hear “So I was on the bus, and I saw this guy…but I”ll get into that later. Anyway, the bus driver forgot his keys…”

These phrases all work well and can convey the same thing as “that’s a different story.”

Some of these are more visual and so they can help to tell the story in a different way.

Try these out and you might find that you have some great options to choose from when it warrants in conversation.


These phrases are useful for connection, and so they are great to understand and know.

They show a bit of intensity, a bit of personality, and quite possibly a bit of humor too.

They work well in conversation and help to convey a simple topic to the person you are talking to.

Try these out today and see how they can help you with connections in a fun way!

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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