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16 / 10 / 2006

PARTNER vs. COUPLE (Revision): meaning and examples

Good morning. I hope you enjoyed your weekend.

Last Wednesday we reviewed the word Partner. Today we are going to look at the difference between Partner and Couple. This difference was originally featured in a Daily Vitamin on March 1st, 2004. However, these words tend to cause a lot of confusion with Spanish and Catalan speakers, so we reproduce it in its entirety below.

Today we will look at two more words (both nouns) that often cause confusion amongst English students; the nouns are couple and partner.

Couple means: two people who are involved in a romantic relationship, they may or may not be married.

Partner means: someone who you live with and have a sexual relationship with.

Notice that partner refers to ONE person and couple refers to TWO people. Consider the following examples.

Example 1
John and Mary have been dating for a long time. They really make a great couple.

Example 2
John has been Mary's partner for a long time.

Example 1 focuses on both John and Mary (as a couple) and Example 2 focuses only on John (as the partner of Mary)

Both couple and partner have other meanings (for example, partner is also used in business contexts to mean "one of 2 or more people who owns a company." However, today we have only focused on the meanings related to romantic relationships.

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I'll see you tomorrow.