Lôn
Lv 7
Lôn asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 2 weeks ago

Why do Americans omit the 'of' in phrases like : a couple of years (a couple years) ?

8 Answers

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  • 2 weeks ago
    Favorite Answer

    I hear you, Lon. I've seen this informal structure over and over again, always from Americans, though of course not from ALL Americans.

    A couple beers; a couple days; a couple cans of beans; a couple hours.

    I don't know why they do it, but most likely it's just one step further than  'a coupla beers' or 'a coupla days'. And THAT is just one step further along from 'a couple o' days' and 'a couple o' beers', perfectly normal in the UK and just as colloquial.

    • Lôn
      Lv 7
      2 weeks agoReport

      Thank goodness...I was beginning to doubt myself!

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  • 1 week ago

    In English you need to include the word ' of.'

    It is the same in Spanish and French and the word is ' De'

    However in Dutch and German the  word is not used.

    In Dutch you would not say; een kopje van koffee ( a cup of coffee )

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  • John
    Lv 7
    2 weeks ago

    I don't know anybody who does. Certainly I have heard it but it is less common than you seem to think. Certainly nothing like "Why do [all] Americans".

  • Lili
    Lv 7
    2 weeks ago

    It's just colloquial speech as used by some people.  The colloquial (or vulgar) language always differs from the formal tongue. You don't think the ancient Romans all spoke perfect classical Latin, do you?  

    They did not.

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  • A.J.
    Lv 7
    2 weeks ago

    Colloquial English is not always proper English and grammar and in writing, there could be quotations which are exact, and some writing is less formal.

    Also, people are generally not well educated as a fault of our public school systems and home environment of many students. And language changes over time. The spoken and written of one or two hundred years ago is different from today and some of the changes come from common errors. Regional and ethnic accents and foreign words also enter language as norm. First the errors are accepted as alternate less common, and then equally accepted. And, English often has implied words left out of communication as not necessary because the main purpose is communication.

    A couple of years > A couple o' years > A couple 'a' years > A couple years

    The written followed a verbal progression. It is still approximately two years and understood.  There is also an effect of "A few years" and "Several years" and "Many years" without the "of" since it seems "about two" is unique to have "of" since I believe a couple is a matched pair and we might use "a pair of years".

    Two difficulties in English are that the number of exceptions exceed the number of rules and that English is a language of context where the words are defined by those around it.

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  • Matt
    Lv 5
    2 weeks ago

    There's enough that its easily understandable. And i find it only happens when talking sometimes. 

  • 2 weeks ago

    Some, perhaps, do so.  Most do not.  If you don't hear the missing word, it may be due to the rapid speech of the speaker, or it may be missing because of the laziness of the speaker. You won't find such words missing in written form.

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    • bluebellbkk
      Lv 7
      1 week agoReport

      I'm backing Lon on this; I've noticed the exact same phenomenon. Please note that he wasn't criticising or complaining, and neither am I; it's just a minor curiosity.

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  • Goerge
    Lv 7
    2 weeks ago

    12 of the clock went out with wigs.

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