different coloured pens or pens of different colour

Md. Saiful Alam

Senior Member
Hello everyone,

a. I have different coloured pens.
b. I have pens of different colour.
I have a younger brother who bought pens which are of different colour. Which one of the sentences is correct?

  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    They're both correct. (a) is probably the more natural way to say it. In writing, a hyphen would be useful to distinguish different-coloured pens (= pens of different colours) from another possible reading, different pens which are coloured. But that's not an important point. With (b), you could also use plural 'colours'.


    Senior Member
    British English
    Your first is fine as an idiomatic sentence. Your second needs a minor correction: "I have pens of different colours."

    Some might suggest that the first could be interpreted to have more than one meaning, but that would depend on context. As a bald statement it means the same as the second sentence. Add some context and change the meaning: "John has red and green pens. I have different coloured pens." (My pens are neither red nor green.)

    A more precise use of English would be "I have pens of various colours".

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    All your examples are good, with one problem: of different colour :cross:. What do you mean exactly?

    Do you mean: I have one blue pen, one red pen, one green pen...? You need to say: I have pens of different colours.
    OR: Your pens are all blue, mine are all red. You need to say: I have pens of a different colour.



    Senior Member
    US English
    Some people say e.g. "a red pen" to mean a pen that writes with red ink; others would call this careless usage. (We say "to blue-pencil" a proof for "to edit" it, because editors used to use a pencil with blue lead to make corrections in copy.)
    < Previous | Next >