Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: couple (4).

couple (4). Today: With Words of Comparison. When “couple” is used with comparison words such as “more,” “fewer,” and “too many,” the “of” is omitted. In the sentence “I’d like a couple more shrimp,” “shrimp” is the direct object. It is modified by the adjective “more,” which in turn is modified by the adverbial phrase “a couple.” There is no place in the example for “of” (neither “a couple of more shrimp” nor “a couple more of shrimp” makes sense). But if the informal sentence structure can be slightly inverted, the “of” becomes idiomatic again (“A couple of shrimp more would be nice”). E.g.: o “The way Padraig Harrington sees it, he played nothing but good shots at the par-5 13th hole, just a couple too many.” Phil Richards, “Palmer’s Final Round Not Quite Finished,” Indianapolis Star, 13 Apr. 2002, at D8. o “He launched a couple more ringers from his black-gloved hands before calling it a day just after 1 p.m. Saturday.” Justin Kmitch, “Last Day for Last Fling,” Chicago Daily Herald, 2 Sept. 2002, Neighbor §, at 1. For information about the Language-Change Index, click here. Quotation of the Day: “The first [fault] is the frequent use of obscure terms . . . than which I do not know a more universal, inexcusable, and unnecessary mistake among the clergy of all distinctions, but especially the younger practitioners.” Jonathan Swift, “Hard Words” (1721), in Foundations of English Style 152, 152 (Paul M. Fulcher ed., 1927).
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