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另外 and 另一...what is the difference?

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I wonder this confuses anyone else...

I'm having trouble working out the difference between using ling4wai4 (另外) and ling4yi1 (另一), in terms of the meaning 'other' and 'another'.

At first, from looking in a couple of dictionaries, I thought ling4wai4 meant 'the other' (ie one or more specific 'other' things), such as in: the people at the other table, Can you give me the other book.

and I thought ling4yi1 meant 'another' (ie a non-specific 'other'), such as: can you give me another book, Can I have another table?

However, looking at other examples from my dictionary, it seems both forms seem to be used to mean 'the other' and 'another'.

Does anyone have any helpful rule of thumb for this?

And also, how does this all fit in with 'qi2ta1de' (其他的)??

Many thanks for any comments or suggestions.


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I think in many cases they are the same, but 另外 emphasises 'another, besides the one already mentioned', whereas 另一 emphasises 'another, in addition to the one already mentioned'.

For example:


I want to eat apple. I also want to eat another kind of fruit. Eating only apples is too plain.


I want to eat apple. I also want to eat another kind of fruit. Eating only apples is not enough.

Note, however, that 另外 can also be followed by 一. I think the first example may sound a bit smoother if it were changed to 我要吃苹果,我也要吃另外一种水果,光吃苹果太单调了。

Also, 另外 can be used as an adverb to mean 'in addition', for example:

我已经另外买了新房 I've bought another new house

In this case, the 外 is optional. The above example can also be written as: 我已经另买了新房

其它的 means 'other, different from those already mentioned', but does not mean 'in addition to those already mentioned' as 另(外)一 does. For example:

我不喜欢吃苹果,有没有其它的水果? I don't like eating apples. Are there any other fruits?

Note that with 另(外)一, the implication was eating fruits in addition to apples, whereas with 其它的 it is instead of apples.

Anyway, I'm not a native speaker of chinese. This is just my feeling. Maybe it's a load of boloney. Perhaps someone else could confirm or repudiate my theory.

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Off the top of my head, 另一 seems to be the abbreviated version of 另外一 (or more correctly, 另 in 另一 is the abbreviation of 另外). I think that's mostly it.

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另外 is adverb. To make it as an adjective, use 另外的.

e.g. 我要另外的衣服 ( adj)

e.g 另外, 我要這件衣服. (adv)

另一 is an abbrv for 另外一, which is an adjective.

e.g. 我想去另外一間餐廳.

e.g. 我想去另一間餐廳 (more oral form)

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