Difference Between Alternately and Alternatively | Alternately vs Alternatively


The key difference between alternately and alternatively is that alternately means one after another or consecutively whereas alternatively means another choice or possibility.

Alternately and alternatively are two adverbs that stem from the word alternate, which comes from the Latin word alternatus. However, there is a distinct difference between alternately and alternatively in terms of meaning and usage. It is also important to note that in American English, these two words are used interchangeably.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What Does Alternately Mean
3. What Does Alternatively Mean
4. Similarities Between Alternately and Alternatively
5. Side by Side Comparison – Alternately vs Alternatively in Tabular Form
6. Summary

What Does Alternately Mean?

Alternately is an adverb derived from the word alternate. Thus, this adverb means one thing after another, several things taken in turn, or, consecutively. For example, if someone says that he jogs on alternate days, this means he goes jogging on consecutive days – he jogs on one day, doesn’t jog the next day, but goes jogging the following day, etc. Moreover, you can use this adverb to describe two things continually following and succeeded by each other.

Difference Between Alternately and Alternatively | Alternately vs Alternatively

Figure 01: Alternately happy and sad

Let’s now look at some example sentences that use this adverb.

– Elizabeth was alternately confused and confident.
– The animal had alternately brown and yellow strips.
– The show is alternately depressing and amusing.
– She felt alternately hot and cold with fear.
– When we were living together, my sister and I alternately took turns taking out the trash.

What Does Alternatively Mean?

Alternatively is also an adverb. But, this means as another choice or possibility. It has the same meaning as the word alternative. Both of these words indicate more than one possibility. For example, the sentence ‘We can arrange a car for you; alternatively, you can take the bus” indicates two choices: taking a car or bus. Thus, the adjective alternatively here has a similar function to ‘or else’ or ‘if not’.

Difference Between Alternately and Alternatively | Alternately vs Alternatively

Figure 2: Alternatively indicates more than one option

Let’s now look at some more sentences using this adverb.

  • You can visit the beautiful city of Paris; alternatively, you can directly fly to Germany.
  • We can go to the Thai restaurant, or alternatively, we can try that new Chinese place.
  • He can email us his contact details; alternatively, he can telephone our head office.

What are the Similarities Between Alternately and Alternatively?

  • Alternately and alternatively are two adverbs that stem from the Latin word alternatus.
  • In American English, alternately can also refer to another possibility. In this sense, these adverbs are interchangeable.

What is the Difference Between Alternately and Alternatively?

Alternately means one after another or consecutively whereas alternatively means another choice or possibility. Therefore, this is the key difference between alternately and alternatively. Moreover, alternately is directly related to the word alternate whereas alternatively is directly related to the word alternative.

Difference Between Alternately and Alternatively | Alternately vs Alternatively

Summary – Alternately vs Alternatively

Alternately and alternatively are two adverbs that stem from the Latin word alternatus. However, there is a distinct difference between alternately and alternatively; alternately means one after another or consecutively whereas alternatively means another choice or possibility.

Image Courtesy:

1. “311730” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “1767562” (CC0) via Pixabay

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