Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
spoken English conversation examples a whole nother

Have you heard somebody say “nother” in English?

Is this one of those words that seems a bit confusing or as if there are other alternatives for?

There are some words that work well only in conversation, and don’t really work in writing.

If you look at the word “nother” this is such a word, and it also tends to be much more informal than the alternatives. This word is used mostly in spoken English.

We’re going to look at this word, how and when you might use it, and how it can be used in conversation plus you’ll get tons of useful examples.

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Understanding Some Background

We have talked about this idea before–we focused on the idea of other, nother, and another in 1354.

You may come to the realization as we did, that there are several phrases that use the word “nother” in it.

This is a word that may seem hard to understand, or at least may be hard to know when to use it.

If you do some research you will find plenty out there on this word.

There is actually an article on Merriam Webster that may help a bit.

It helps with a word like “nother” to understand the basics of it.

The article is “Whole Nother’: Wrong or Right?” and it will help you to see how this word evolved.

The history of “nother” goes back longer than you might think.

In the article they say that “nother” is a word–but it’s really just with “a whole nother…..____”

Apparently this word has been used since the early 1500s if you can believe it!

It was a real word then and it was used in conversations often.

Then in the 19th century, that’s when we started using it with “whole” in our sentences.

However ,in the mid 20th century,  many refused  nother as a word and the controversy around it began.

According to Merriam Webster this may be because it is not formal and only really used in spoken English.

Since it is not used in formal writing, then that may be why it was rejected as a word.

So you can see there is a lot of history to this word, and it is interesting to understand for some background.

It’s About Chopping Up A Phrase

When you look at the word, nother is really the chopped up version of another.

The idea is that you would say something like “a whole nother xyz…”

Grammarist mentions this split that you are learning about, and they reiterate this point and how it is intended to be used.

You will see though that Grammarist also mentions that an apostrophe sounds like a whole Another level–apostrophe for the “a.”

They say this doesn’t make any sense, and so you might find this confusing.

However other places say that’s what it is and it’s just colloquial, and that’s all there is to it.

So the spelling is a bit unclear overall.

You might agree as many others do that it’s more about chopping up the phrase I suppose I agree that it’s .

That’s what it’s become with being used with “a whole.”

We won’t get into all of the grammatical and linguistic words about this for now.

Maybe another time–a whole nother time we will.

There are a lot of opinions online about this and a lot of explanations, and so you might even find yourself getting lost in this.

Do you say or do you hear natives say “a whole nother?”

You might be able to imagine yourself saying it very casually.

You might use “nother” to show a bit of spunk or to be funny.

It definitely has more personality and flair than the alternative.

It may be heavily debated, but there can be the right time and conversation to use this word.

Common Ways To Use This Word

Though this word may be controversial among some people, it is used quite a bit in conversation.

There are some common ways that you are likely to see this used, and therefore some common phrases to come out of this.

If you look at it in context, this basically just means different or more.

The whole makes it more extreme than just saying another, and so it may be a perfect addition to what you are trying to say in conversation.

Let’s look at some of the common uses and phrases that use “nother” in them, and you may have already heard some of these.

  • A whole nother level: This means that you are taking things up a notch. You are going to another level and you are moving forward in a big way. You may be challenging yourself or working to move things to a level that they haven’t been before.
  • A whole nother ballgame: This means that things are very different than what you have been used to. You may have a challenge or a thing you are trying to overcome, and if there’s something new it’s a whole extra level.
  • A whole nother story: You may be trying to explain something to somebody. You may come upon a part of the story where there is more to tell, but you aren’t getting into it at this time. Then you might say that’s a “whole nother story” for another time.
  • A whole nother situation: You might think that you have a lot going on and then something else comes up. It’s an entirely different mess or challenge or situation entirely. You may feel as if you want to save this for later because it’s a lot to deal with.
  • A whole nother thing: You are talking about something and a completely unrelated subject comes up. Rather than addressing that issue or thing at the moment, you could refer to it as this so that it is discussed at a later time.

You will find that this word is used in more phrases than you can imagine.

When It’s Best To Use This Word

There are always good times and bad times to use a word such as this.

Since it’s more casual and informal, you will find that it’s not necessarily appropriate to use all the time.

We’ll get into the times that you should avoid this phrase, because this matters greatly.

However there are some times when this phrase can work quite well.

There are instances or people where this word can be fitting in conversation.

Here’s when you can say it and include it in your conversations.

  • With friends: You can drop “nother” in conversation when you are talking with friends. It works well if you are telling a long story or just having an informal conversation. You are perfectly fine to use this word in conversation with friends.
  • With family: This is another instance where you may be engaged in informal conversations or long stories. Saying something like “nother story” works well when you are talking to family. When you are with your family, you are likely the most comfortable and free.
  • With people you are casually talking to: The key here is informal conversations and people you are comfortable with. This is when you can talk openly and say what you want to say. Using a word like “nother” works well in such conversations.

So you can see the times and people that you can use such a word with.

It’s all about having a relaxed vocabulary and using words such as these which fit into that category.

When To Avoid Using This

At the other end of the spectrum, there are times when you want to avoid using a word such as “nother” in conversation.

These are the opposite types of situations when you may not be as comfortable or when you can’t speak informally.

Here are the times and places when you want to avoid using this word.

  • Formal writing: This is when you are showing a polished side to your writing. You want to use language and vocabulary that is formal in nature because you want to look professional and polished. This is not a time to use a word such as “nother.”
  • Probably a job interview: When you’re in a job interview you are trying to put your best foot forward. You want to make a good impression and that means talking in a formal way typically. You don’t yet have that comfort level to be able to speak in this way.
  • Probably a more serious feeling place: It may be a deep conversation with somebody about their feelings. It may be you talking about your own feelings about a situation or a person. When you are in such a situation it’s typically a serious matter and therefore you don’t want to use such language to indicate that you are being too laid back or that you don’t care.
  • Probably in a lecture or class discussion: This is another time when you are trying to listen to class material and be part of important conversations. You are trying to learn and contribute, and therefore you want to use the right vocabulary and language to represent yourself well.

Keep these in mind so that you can avoid these mistakes in conversation.

Though you may not intend for it to, using this word in the wrong setting can give off the wrong impression.

Example of How This Works

It can always help to see this sort of thing firsthand.

When you have conversations, you want to know inherently when it’s right or wrong to use a word such as “nother.”

This is a good compare and contrast sort of example where you can see when it doesn’t work and when it is perfectly acceptable to use.

Inappropriate: Job Interview

Try to remember the way that a job interview flows for a point of reference.

You never want to make the wrong impression or you may not proceed in the process.

This is a time when you want to use all the right language and ensure that you represent yourself well.

So here’s an instance of using nother in a job interview, and you will see it just doesn’t fit here.

“So I graduated and then moved to New York, which took my interests in the topic to a whole nother level!”

As you can see it sounds a bit funny and like it just doesn’t fit here.

This could be fine in the right circumstance, but it just doesn’t fit in a job interview.

Appropriate: Connecting With A Friend

This is the time to speak freely and use a more relaxed vocabulary!

When you are connecting with a friend, you are relaxed and talking with ease to this person before you.

This is when the conversation is natural and easy, and therefore you are perfectly fine to use a word such as “nother.”

Here’s how the word may be used appropriately.

“So Lindsay I have to tell you about that crazy story after the movie. Trust me, it’s a whole nother situation. I totally wasn’t expecting it!”

As you can see it works well here, and therefore this is the right type of situation to use such a word.


Sometimes words are more written, some are more spoken, and some evolve over time.

We didn’t get into all the linguistic functions of nother today, but went into some of the basics.

Now you can see and understand how it sounds when this word is used in certain situations.

Listen for this word and see when people use it.

This is a great example of learning to speak like natives speak, and now you can start using this word in your conversations.

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

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

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