Even if you’re a native English speaker, I’m sure no one’s English is perfect. I know you’ve also made mistakes maybe a couple times in the past. I’m sure everyone’s bound to make mistakes a couple of times more. However, is it ‘a couple times’ or ‘a couple of times?’
Is It ‘A Couple Of Times’ Or ‘A Couple Times?’
Formally speaking, ‘a couple of times’ is the grammatically correct phrase. Though both mean the same thing, ‘a couple times’ is like a shortened version of the earlier one, and it doesn’t follow grammar rules. However, we still use this phrase on informal and casual occasions.
We can classify ‘couple’ as a noun we use to quantify something. As a quantifying noun, it uses the ‘of-phrase’ as a complement or to complete the meaning of the expression. So, we need to pair ‘couple’ with ‘of’ to make a complete sentence or thought. Examples of this would be ‘a couple of minutes’ or ‘a couple of times.’
‘A couple times,’ on the other hand, means the same, but it doesn’t have the ‘of-phrase’ that completes the thought. Despite so, English speakers still understand the phrase to mean the same thing despite not having ‘of.’ So, many people use it in informal conversations, like between friends.
When Should I Use ‘A Couple Of Times?’
We use ‘a couple of times’ to express that we do or someone does an action at a fewer occurrence or frequency. We also use ‘a couple of times’ for academic and formal writing and daily, informal, casual conversations and interactions. We also regard this as the ‘standard’ phrase.
Below are examples of when to use ‘a couple of times.’
- I used your shampoo a couple of times, but I’m sure I wasn’t the one who finished it all.
- I’ve played indoor archery a couple of times before. But, I wasn’t good at it, so I’ll stick with the beginner course.
- Good day, Sir. I have revised the paper a couple of times already.
- Have there been a couple of times when you felt anxious throughout the week?
- I’ve washed my shirt a couple of times already, but the stain won’t come off.
- We have reported this case to different organizations a couple of times already, but we still have no response.
- I have been to Bali a couple of times before because that’s my mom’s favorite place to visit.
When Should I Use ‘A Couple Times?’
We use ‘a couple times’ to express an action that you or people only do for a few instances. Unlike how ‘a couple of times’ can be used in academic writing, ‘a couple times’ should not be used in formal and academic writing.
Since ‘a couple times’ is not in standard writing, we can only use it in daily, casual, or informal conversations and interactions that happen every day.
So, below are examples of when to use ‘a couple times.’
- I did borrow your beanie a couple times before, but I wasn’t the one who borrowed it today, so don’t ask me.
- I used the phone a couple times this week and it was working fine.
- I’ve been seeing the same notification a couple times in a row. I think my phone is glitching.
- Have you been calling your grandparents at least a couple times a month?
- I’ve tried surfing a couple of times before. It was a lot easier than I thought.
- Can you also try to reach them a couple times after five minutes? I’m worried that they’d be in danger.
- I went to the new park a couple times this week. It has a great ambiance and I think it looked pretty.
Are ‘A Couple Of Times’ And ‘A Couple Times’ Interchangeable?
‘A couple of times’ and ‘a couple times’ can be interchangeable, but it depends on the context you’re using it in. If writing something formal, you cannot replace ‘a couple of times’ with the latter, but if in a casual conversation, we can interchange the two phrases freely.
Is ‘A Couple Of Times’ Or ‘A Couple Times’ Used The Most?
According to the Google Ngram Viewer, ‘a couple of times’ is used more often than ‘a couple times.’ It is probably because the earlier is grammatically correct and generally more acceptable even in formal and academic writing. Thus, speakers and writers prefer to use it more.
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Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.