A rough couple of days

Eric Chengdu

Senior Member
Chinese
We say: "a rough couple of days"
However we say:"a couple of cold days"

Rough and cold are both adjetive, why one is placed before "couple of" while other other is placed after? Personally "a couple of rough days" would make more sense to me. :confused:
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You can say either “a rough couple of days” or “a couple of rough days”. There is a shift of emphasis between the two.

    The same applies with other adjectives, even where there’s no set phrase (as in variations of “a rough/difficult/challenging time”).
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    "a rough couple of days" -- a two-day period being considered as a single period
    "a couple of cold days" -- two separate cold days, which may or may not have been consecutive
     

    Eric Chengdu

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    "a rough couple of days" -- a two-day period being considered as a single period
    "a couple of cold days" -- two separate cold days, which may or may not have been consecutive
    Yeah, that makes sense. :thumbsup: So we can also say "a cold couple of days" or "a cold few days"to mean a couple/few cold days in a row, can't we? Not sure if native English speakers would say it that way in daily speech? Can we extend this usage to any adjectives?
     
    Last edited:

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Yes, we say "We had a cold few days last week" (one cold period) or "we had a few cold days in January" (5 random days out of 31).

    But the idea is not "in a row". The idea is "one single time period that lasts several days". We don't have to think or talk only about short (1-day) time periods.

    That double-meaning extends to other time periods. A 15-day vacation is a vacation lasting for one period of time (that is 15 days long). But my company might tell me that each year I get 15 vacation days: those are 15 separate days.

    Similarly we talk about a 10-year goal (one goal, with a deadline 10 years from now) or 10 yearly goals (a goal for each of 10 years).
     
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