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Which one (#1, #2 or #3) is grammatical?

This is calculated as...

1) ...the price difference from one year to another.

2) ...the price difference from a year to another.

3) ...the price difference from one year to other.

I was about to write #1 in a document, when I thought that maybe I should not mix a numeral (one) with an article (an in another).

UPDATE: In his answer below, FX_ says that he would say #1 and that thinks that #2 is also correct. I'm starting a bounty to check if there any different answers.

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I would have rather called it as ...the price difference between one year and the other. –  ikartik90 Feb 14 '11 at 10:48

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted
+50

"From one year to another" is definitely the correct choice among those three.

I would be more inclined to say it "from one year to the next", though.

You could also say "the price change from year to year" or "the year-over-year price change" or even "the annual price differential."

(edit: I should also say that while "from a year to another" may well be grammatically correct, it is absolutely not idiomatic and will sound bad to most if not all native speakers.)

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+1: your first two points were exactly my first thoughts as well, and the other suggestions are icing on the cake. Tasty, tasty icing. –  PLL Feb 12 '11 at 23:11
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@Ivo - I think @Hellion has completely answered this question. "From one year to another" is clearly the best choice from those you presented, but "from one year to the next" is going to sound much more correct to most if not all anglophones. –  ukayer Feb 13 '11 at 7:27
    
thank you. That's the kind of answer that I was looking for! –  Ivo Rossi Feb 15 '11 at 13:05

The issue here is that "the price difference" is from one particular year to another. Therefore it is erroneous to be vague about "the price difference" being from a (general) year to another year. Because this construction is usually made with particular years in mind, the idiom has become "from particular" to "another" (meaning next).

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The third sentence is definitely not correct: you already have mentioned one thing, so you have to use another and not other.

The first one is correct, and is the way I'd say it. The second does not sound as good to me, but I think it is also correct.

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The first one is definitely correct. The second one, while not technically wrong, sounds somewhat unidiomatic in my opinion.

Here's a little trick to check the contemporary usage of an expression or a phrase: just Google the two phrases and compare the usage contexts. Also, try to figure out which form is preferred by native English speakers.

For instance:

1 "from one year to another"

2,210,000 results (with links to Britannica, etc., which gives us a clue that this usage is acceptable to certain authoritative users of the language)

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=%22from+one+year+to+another%22

2 "from a year to another"

177,000 results, and it occurs more often in the writings of non-native speakers of English.

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=%22from+a+year+to+another%22

At any rate, in your context, I think you'd be safer with #1 than #2.

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Consulting Google is a nice tip. Personally, I would still say "from one year to another" (or "from one year to the next" as suggested by Hellion) even when talking about grade levels. (Though I would even more likely say "grade level" than year. This may be regional or American.) –  John Y Feb 13 '11 at 5:25
    
You're quite right, in fact I'd just noticed the sentence I copied-and-pasted isn't quite grammatical either. I will edit to remove. –  Gilead Feb 13 '11 at 6:38
    
Given that there is nothing wrong grammatically speaking with either phrases, going with the most commonly used phrase (by far) is pretty safe. –  Sylverdrag Feb 13 '11 at 8:36

In English, 'a' can be interpreted as meaning, literally, 'one', but it can just as easily be interpreted to mean 'any'. In sentence #2, 'a year' will be viewed as 'any year' by many, if not most, native English speakers. It is, of course, a very subtle distinction, because the same argument might be made that 'one' can be taken as meaning 'any' within the right context.

English can be a very imprecise language.

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