Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between All together and Altogether

All together vs altogether

Like most compound adverbs with identical two-word phrases, ‘all together’ and ‘altogether’ often cause confusion to many. Probably, some even interchange them nonchalantly without any clue that they are actually two entirely different things. It’s funny how a space and another ‘l’ can make all the difference. Nevertheless, it’s rather easy to tell them apart with the basic understanding of their meanings.
Both ‘all together’ and ‘altogether’ are adverbs. ‘All together’ simply pertains to a group. It means ‘at the same time’. It can also be used as an adjective meaning ‘in a group’. ‘All together’ fundamentally means everyone or everything-together. ‘Altogether’, on the other hand, is an adverb that means ‘in total, overall, wholly, entirely, completely, all in all’. It can as well be used as an adverbial conjunction or an adverb that connects different ideas like ‘in general’, ‘on the whole’, and ‘for the most part’. Another use of it would be in the phrase ‘in the altogether’. It is a humorous slang or expression that means ‘naked’. For example, ‘The unsuspecting butler walked in the drawing room while they were in the altogether.’ However, this expression is no longer commonly used these days.
One clever way of determining which between the two is appropriate is by testing if it can still work without the word ‘all’. If the sentence remains intact and comprehensible without ‘all’, it means the appropriate adverb is ‘all together’. Now, if it no longer makes sense after ‘all’ has been taken out, it only means that ‘altogether’ is what it needs.
For instance, one can say ‘We went to the party together.’ The sentence is clear even without having to add ‘all’. That means, the appropriate word would be ‘all together’. Another example would be ‘She was delighted to see us all together.’ ‘All together, the spectators cheered for another song.’ ‘The pedestrians ran all together towards the shed when the rain began to fall.’ ‘The refugees stayed all together in the military camp.”I was teary-eyed at the sight of my family and friends singing me a birthday song all together.’ ‘Let’s dance all together now.’
Conversely, one cannot say ‘The party was together exhilarating.’ It doesn’t make much sense, does it? Then we know that what we should be using is ‘altogether.’ ‘The party was altogether exhilarating. It was fun overall.’ Further example would be ‘I am altogether convinced that he’s a good man.’ ‘Since one of the band members wasn’t playing tonight, they cancelled the gig altogether.’ ‘It was quite pricey, but a great dining experience altogether.’ ‘The circus was altogether out of this world!’ ‘I got some minor bruises and scratches from the accident, but I’m fine altogether.’
Another way of clearing out confusion regarding these terms is by using them regularly both in speaking and in writing, until correct usage rubs in and it comes out just naturally.
Summary

  1. ‘All together’ and ‘altogether’ are both adverbs. In some cases, ‘all together’ is also used as an adjective, while ‘altogether’, an adverbial conjunction.
  2. All together pertains to a group. It means ‘at the same time’, ‘as one’, or ‘unanimously’. Altogether means ‘in total’, ‘overall’, ‘wholly’, ‘entirely’, ‘completely’, ‘all in all’, ‘in general’, or ‘on the whole’.
  3. One way to find out which one to use between ‘all together’ and ‘altogether’ is by taking out the word ‘all’ from the word or phrase. If the sentence still makes sense without it, it means that ‘all together’ is the answer. Otherwise, ‘altogether’ should be used.
  4. Using these terms regularly in speech and in writing helps in clearing out confusion on proper usage.

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1 Comment

  1. I’m a transcriber and I encounter this every day. I’m always confused which one to use. Thanks for this article.

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