All Together Now

Lesson: using “altogether” and “all together” correctly

altogether: completely, entirely; with everything considered

all together: all at the same time

Here is yet another common spelling/grammar mistake. We have two words that are almost spelled the same, and their meanings are similar enough to make confusing the two a little too easy. Once again, thank you, English. Do you really have to be so difficult?

Altogether and all together happen to both be adverbs, as well, but you use them in different situations. Let’s run though some examples to get a better handle on which word to use when.

Altogether

Example: Lawrence was altogether finished with tap dancing.

In this sentence, altogether means completely or entirely. Lawrence was completely and entirely frustrated with his tap dancing lessons, so he was altogether finished with them.

Example: Altogether, Lawrence was pleased with his decision to quit dancing.

Here, altogether means with everything considered. The hours of practice, the sore feet, the overabundance of sequins—Lawrence had considered everything. That’s why, altogether, he was pleased with his decision.

All together

Example: Let’s sing “Take Me out to the Ballgame” all together on the count of three.

This all together seems a bit easier to understand than its friend above. All = everybody, and together = at the same time. So in this sentence, all (every last person in the room) are going to sing together (at the same time).

Quiz

Fill in the blank with the correct word(s): altogether or all together. The answers are below.

1.________, the whale chose not to fall from the sky.

2. The whale was ________ happy flying amongst the clouds.

3. “But whales are supposed to live in the ocean!” the children said _________.

4. “I believe your encyclopedic listing about whales’ habitats is _________ incorrect,” the whale said in response.

5. Confused about their world view, the children cried _________ and skipped rocks on a placid lake.

1. altogether
2. altogether
3. all together
4. altogether
5. all together

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