There are several words and phrases in English that look like they should mean the same thing, and even sound identical when spoken aloud. Nevertheless, in many cases there are subtle differences.
Altogether and all together sound the same, but they actually have separate functions in a sentence, and they can’t be used interchangeably in any context.
Continue reading to discover the proper usage of altogether and all together.
What is the Difference Between Altogether and All Together?
In this article, I will compare altogether vs. all together. I will also use each in a sentence to illustrate the proper use and context. Plus, I will discuss a useful memory tool that will allow you to remember whether to use altogether or all together in your writing.
When to Use Altogether
What does altogether mean? Altogether is an adverb. It means taken as a whole, in such a way as to be synonymous with completely, totally, wholly.
Here are some examples:
- Jen has altogether too much class to be consorting with this bunch of hooligans.
- The company’s liquid assets are altogether worth over 15 billion dollars.
- Today there is one: neither working nor seeking work—that is, men who are outside the labor force altogether. –The Wall Street Journal
Sometimes, the word’s use more closely approximates that of outright, but its meaning is still largely the same. See the sentence below.
- At the alumni banquet this year, leggings have been banned altogether.
When to Use All Together
What does all together mean? All together is a phrase that means in the same place or at the same time as a complete group. It is never used as a phrasal adverb.
See the following examples:
- All together, now: No taxation without representation!
- Petrov, Yelena and Dmitri were all together at the diner, when suddenly, disaster struck.
- Find the muddy towels, gather them all together, and wash them with the hose.
- It’s not hard to imagine the TV show “Arrested Development” as another influence: Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything. . . . (In this reading, Rebecca is the Michael Bluth character just trying to hold it all together.) –The New York Times
Trick to Remember the Difference
Now, let’s go over a trick to remember all together vs. altogether.
Altogether is only used as an adverb. For all usages other than as an adverb, use the phrase all together instead.
There is an easy way to remember when to use all together. Look at the individual words that make up the phrase. If you were to say your family is “all together,” that would mean your family is “all here” or they are “all present.” When thinking about this phrase, just substitute “all together” with the phrase “all here.”
By remembering this mnemonic, you should be able to keep altogether and all together straight in your mind and in your writing.
Is it altogether or all together? While these two words sound the same when spoken, they actually have subtle differences in their meanings.
- Altogether is an adverb, which is a synonym of its fellow adverbs completely and outright. It means taken as a whole.
- All together, meanwhile, is a phrase that refers to an entire group, such as a table of friends who are sitting in a diner, or everyone in a crowd.
Altogether is only used as an adverb, while all together is never used as an adverb but, instead, is used in all senses other than an adverb.
You can remember the difference between these two words by linking the phrases all together and all here in your mind.
If you still have trouble deciding whether to choose all together or altogether in a sentence, you can reread this article for a reminder.