Alternate vs alternate

Alternate and alternate  are two words that are spelled identically but are pronounced differently and have different meanings, which makes them heteronyms. These word pairs are often misused words. Heteronyms exist because of our ever-changing English language, and these words with the same spelling and different pronunciation and meaning are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. It can be difficult to learn how to spell different words that look the same but are not pronounced the same, and how to use them in sentences, because they are easily confused. The way the pronunciations and definitions differ can be confusing even to native English speakers when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling and misuse by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice, and learning words in English by studying a dictionary of the English language. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word tear meaning a liquid drop that falls from an eye is derived from the Old English word tear, meaning a drop or nectar; tear meaning to pull apart comes from the Old English word tearan, which means to lacerate. Heteronyms are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced differently but are spelled the same and come from a different etymology. They are often used in puns and riddles. When reading, it is sometimes difficult to know which word is being used in a sentence and how to pronounce the word phonetically. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check for these commonly confused words but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a heteronym in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Do not confuse heteronyms with homophones, which are two or more words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings like sow and sew; do not confuse them with homonyms, which are words that have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings like spring as in spring forth and spring as in the season of the year. Heteronyms are a type of homograph, which is a word that is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning. We will examine the definitions of the words alternate and alternate, where these words came from, and a few examples of their use in sentences.

Alternate (ALL tur nate) is a verb that means to occur by turns, to repeatedly change from one to another. The word alternate may be used as a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object, or an intransitive verb, which does not. The word alternate is derived from the Latin word, alternatus, which means to do by turns. Related words are alternates, alternated, alternating.

Alternate (ALL tur nut) is an adjective that describes a pattern that occurs by turns or repeatedly changes from one to another. The word alternate may also be used as a noun to mean someone who acts as a substitute for another, like a substitute team member or juror. The word alternate is also derived from the Latin word, alternatus.


The police and fire departments alternate each month to select one employee to be the recipient of this award, which is presented during PRPSC meetings in Kona. (Big Island Now)

Over the years, since the 1980s, Kerala has seen its government alternate each term between the Indian National Congress (Congress)-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) parties each time polls are held in the state with the highest literacy rate in India. (New Straits Times)

The White Sox and Nike introduced the team’s new City Connect alternate uniforms Friday morning. (Chicago Sun Times)

“With only Liposomal Amphotericin B injections in the stock, and just 880 more Liposomal expected to be received today (Thursday), the CM stressed the need to strengthen alternate drug stocks as recommended by the Expert Group constituted by his government to deal with the crisis,” read an official release. (Hindustan Times)

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