Public Works and Government Services Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional Links

 
Search TERMIUM Plus®
To begin your search, go to the alphabetical index below and click on the first letter of the word you are searching for.

alternate(ly), alternative(ly)

The primary meaning of the adjective alternate is “by turns,” “first one, then the other” or “every other one.”

  • The nurse and the home care worker come on alternate days.

Alternative refers to one of two (or possibly more) choices.

  • Since our first attempt didn’t work, we were forced to try an alternative method.

The same distinction applies to the adverbial forms alternately and alternatively.

  • Throughout the trial, Judith was alternately calm and despairing.
  • We planned to go by taxi; alternatively, we can take the bus.

Note, however, that alternate can also be used with the meaning of alternative.

  • We were forced to try an alternate method.