Are You Altogether All Together?

Are you ready for another set of words that are often confusing?

All ready and already are often wrongly used. One is an adjective phrase and one is an adverb. And the fact that I told you one is a phrase is a big hint.

All ready is the adjective phrase, meaning completely ready.

  • MaryLou was all ready for Christmas by December 15.

Already is an adverb meaning “prior to a specified or implied time,” or “as early as now.”

  • “Have you wrapped the gifts already?” Alan wailed. (so soon?)
  • “The gifts were already wrapped and put under the tree last week,” MaryLou explained.

A similar troublesome pair is all together and altogether. Here again, one is a phrase and the other a single adverb.

All together is the adverb phrase meaning “in a group” or “everyone.”

  • The neighbors went caroling all together.
  • MaryLou’s soprano led the group. “All together now. Let’s start with ‘Joy to the World.’”

Altogether is also an adverb that means “entirely” or “completely.”

  • They were altogether exhausted after walking through the snowdrifts and singing for an hour.

It can also mean “all included,” “all counted,” or “all told.”

  • There were twenty-two carolers altogether.

Or, “on the whole” or  “all things considered.”

  • Altogether, they considered the evening a success.

If you can substitute completely or all in for altogether, you’ve got the right word. But if you can rewrite the sentence using all together separately, then that’s the way to go.

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One Comment

  1. Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, is “alright” ever all right? Not being facetious–I’d really like your take on that.

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