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does "a couple weeks" mean two?



 
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does "a couple weeks" mean two? #1 (permalink) Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:36 am   does "a couple weeks" mean two?
 

Hello, I've been arguing extensively with my friend over the usage of the word "couple" as translated from Russian. In Russian we say couple to mean both "two" or "several", it is rather vague.

I have checked the forum already, and found out that saying "a couple weeks" and "a couple of weeks" are both acceptable forms, but hearing "a couple ___" still makes me incredibly uneasy. Am I right to believe that although both are acceptable today, saying "couple ____(noun)" is informal and slang as opposed to "a couple of"?

My whole problem is that I wanted to tell a person that their painting will be ready in a week or two at the latest, my friend wrote "a couple weeks" which I said was wrong because it will make the person think they have to wait several weeks. My friend is completely adamant that couple always means "pair" regardless of whether it's used as a noun or descriptive noun. And that "couple" never means several.

Every dictionary we've looked this up in all translate "couple" as "pair", but I am convinced that "a couple (of)____" at least 90% of the time means MORE than two.

I would really appreciate "a couple of" :) responses to back up my point.
Sashka378
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Joined: 10 Jul 2008
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does "a couple weeks" mean two? #2 (permalink) Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:38 am   does "a couple weeks" mean two?
 

*** one correction: my friend concedes that "a couple OF weeks" will mean several, but as long as one says "couple weeks" it means specifically two.
Sashka378
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Joined: 10 Jul 2008
Posts: 3

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does "a couple weeks" mean two? #3 (permalink) Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:47 am   does "a couple weeks" mean two?
 

Hi Sashka

Both 'a couple (nouns)' and 'a couple of (nouns)' are commonly used in American English. There is no difference in meaning: Both can mean exactly 2, or possibly a few more than 2. (I'd say it would generally be less than 5.)

As far as I know, only 'a couple of (nouns)' is used in British English.
.
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