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couple of, couple more

Writers are often confused about when to include the preposition of after the phrase a couple. The guidelines below explain when the preposition should be included or omitted.

A couple of + noun

When a couple of is used before a noun, writers often drop the preposition of, mistakenly using the noun couple as an adjective. This usage is informal and should be avoided in writing. The noun phrase a couple needs the preposition of to link it to another noun.

  • Giovanni is having a couple of [not a couple] friends over for dinner.

A couple of + adjective + noun

When a couple of is used before an adjective modifying a noun, the preposition of is needed to link the noun phrase a couple to the noun following the adjective.

  • Brenda bought a couple of [not a couple] green papayas at the supermarket.

A couple of + a number

When a couple of is used before a number such as dozen, hundred or thousand, the preposition of is needed to link the noun phrase a couple to the number.

  • Ian gathered a couple of [not a couple] dozen eggs from the henhouse this morning.

A couple + word of comparison or degree

When a couple is used immediately before a word or phrase of comparison or degree (e.g. more, fewer, too few, too many), the preposition of is dropped.

  • Matilda ate a couple more [not a couple of more] slices of pizza than Serge did.

However, if the word of comparison or degree appears later in the sentence, a couple is followed by of.

  • Matilda ate a couple of slices more than Serge did.

For information on how to make verbs agree with the subject couple, see VERB AGREEMENT WITH COUPLE.