Talk about confusing! Which is which, and how do we know when we should use "all together" versus "altogether?"
Don't feel badly if you are having difficulty determining how to use the words "all together" and "altogether" correctly. Most of us do! The word "altogether" is one word, where "all together" is a compound word containing two words. While that doesn't mean anything in spoken English, it does matter in writing. These words sound exactly the same, but have different meanings. Most people don't realize this. As a result, they are misused in speaking and in writing.
Like most things in the English language, there is a great deal of memorizing when it comes to mastering many areas. The areas that lend themselves to confusion include pronunciation, grammar and words that sound the same, just to name a few. This is one of the reasons that many people who learn English as a second language find it so difficult to master. Just so you know, native American English speakers also have difficulty with grammar and word usage!
Let's take a look at each one and the correct way to use them. First, we will talk about the word "altogether."
The word "altogether" is considered an adverb and can have a few definitions. Probably the most common definition is "completely" or "entirely."
"Let's forget about that idea altogether."
"My manager thinks this idea is altogether ridiculous."
"We will have an altogether wonderful time."
The word "altogether" can also mean "with everything included."
"The bill for our dinner came to fifty dollars altogether."
"Altogether, our hotel room cost "$100."
In another example, the adverb "altogether" can occur at the beginning of a sentence to mean "with everything considered."
"Altogether, I think this project will be very valuable."
So you can see from the usages above, the word "altogether" can be used in a few different situations with slightly different meanings.
Now let's take a look at the words "all together."
The word "all together" is a compound word because it is made up of two words that go together. This word means "all in a group" or "everyone together."
"We went to dad's birthday party all together."
Here is another example:
"Are we going all together in my car?"
Now that you are completely confused, will you forget about these two words altogether or will you give a shot and memorize them?
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Cheryl Posey is a licensed and nationally certified speech/language pathologist. She specializes in accent reduction and communication skills training and provides useful tips and suggestions to help you improve your spoken English and reduce your accent with articles from Speaking Your Best's blog. Subscribe today so that you don't miss any articles!