Lui ha soltanto due anni in meno di me.

English Translation

He’s only a couple of years younger than me.

I am confused by the usage here. I have always used ”un paio di…” to mean “a couple of.” This seems like a very exact usage. Does “soltanto due…” really mean “a couple of” — or, rather “only two.”?

Soltanto = only, merely - so yes, only two; it is a touch more exact than “Un paio di”, like English, just another way of saying something.

But the translation is “only a couple” - seems odd to me

ReversoContext offers a mix of “couple of years” and “two years” for “due anni” in its search. Meanwhile it is only “couple of years” for “un paio di anni”.


And talking of “paio di”, the phrase “Un altro paio di maniche!” is a big favourite - another kettle of fish, a different matter.



‘Due anni’ is more used than ‘un paio di’


Grazie GiuseppeBG per la tua conferma;-)

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@giuseppeBG - fascinating!

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This might also stem from the English usage. Depending on where you are, or your conversation partner(s), “a couple” is sometimes used to mean strictly only 2 - no more, no less. Some people can be very strict/pedantic about this, though most dictionaries do include “a small (indefinite) number” as an informal definition of “a couple”.

You can see some examples of this mentioned in this discussion too (with more links to similar discussions in the first comment too).