Difference Between Alternate and Alternative

Alternate vs Alternative
 

Though alternate and alternative are two words that are often used alike and are thought interchangeable, strictly speaking they are not interchangeable at all as there is a difference between alternate and alternative. There is a great difference between the usages of the two words, alternate and alternative. The word alternate is used in the sense of every other or every second one. On the other hand, the word alternative is used in the sense of choice. This is one of the main differences between the two words, alternate and alternative. The word alternate was created in the early 16th century while alternative was created in the mid 16th century.

What does Alternate mean?

Unlike alternative, the word alternate has nothing to do with choice. It has everything do with position. Some of the best examples of alternate positions are ‘odd numbers in the numerals’, ‘even number in the numerals’, ‘every other day in a week’ and the like.

Observe these sentences for example:

He teaches mathematics on alternate days.

He goes to piano class on alternate days.

In both sentences given above the word alternate refers to every other or every second one. On the contrary to alternative, the word alternate gives the sense of succeeding by turns or one following the other in succession of time or place.

What does Alternative mean?

Alternative refers to either of two things offered to the choice of a person. Thus, when two things are offered to a person as two choices then they are otherwise called alternatives. It is interesting to note that a choice between more than two things or one of the several things offered to one to choose among is also called an alternative. Hence, in short it can be said that an alternative refers directly to the ultimate choice of the person.

On the other hand, unlike the word alternate, the word alternative has nothing to do with every other or every second one.

Look at the sentences given below:

He was given an alternative.

He made a good use of the alternatives provided to him.

In the sentences given above the word alternative is used to convey a sense of choice. In the first sentence, it is understood that someone was given a choice between two objects. In the second sentence, it is understood that someone was given a choice to choose between more than two objects or things from different groups for that matter.

The word alternative is always reciprocal in purpose. On the other hand, the word alternative is disjunctive in character. It is, in fact, the course of action or the thing offered in place of another.

Difference Between Alternate and Alternative

What is the difference between Alternate and Alternative?

• The word alternate is used in the sense of every other or every second one. On the other hand, the word alternative is used in the sense of choice.

• The word alternative is always reciprocal in purpose. On the other hand, the word alternative is disjunctive in character. It is, in fact, the course of action or the thing offered in place of another.

• The word alternate gives the sense of succeeding by turns or one following the other in succession of time or place.