Commonly Confused Words: Alternate/Alternative

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Do you offer an alternate point, or an alternative point?

Uses of Alternate:

  • Alternate (verb): When used as a verb, alternate means “to take turns”: “The two new associates alternate doing doc review.”

  • Alternate (adjective): When used as an adjective, alternate means “every other”: “He attends Barry’s Bootcamp on alternate days.”
  • Alternate (noun): When used as a noun, an alternate is a substitute: “Because of potential jury tampering, the judge swore in the alternate.

Uses of Alternative:

  • Alternative (noun): When used as a noun, an alternative means “one of two or more available possibilities”: “The alternative is to sue in federal court immediately.”
  • Alternative (adjective): When used as an adjective, alternative means “available as another possibility”: “He considered alternative career paths after noticing the toll the long hours had taken on him.”

Rules:

(1) If you need a noun, use alternate if you mean SUBSTITUTE, otherwise use alternative.

(2) If you need a verb, use alternate.

(3) If you need an adjective, use alternative when discussing other POSSIBILITIES, otherwise use alternate.

Although you could end your learning here, the alternative (doing some practice problems) is a better option.

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1. True/False: The use of alternate or alternative in the following sentence is correct. The defendant was presented with an alternate plea deal

2 / 10

2. The use of alternate or alternative in the following sentence is correct. The contract provided an alternate dispute resolution clause.

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3. The use of alternate or alternative in the following sentence is correct. The prosecution proposed an alternative theory of the crime.

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4. True/False: The use of alternate or alternative in the following sentence is correct. The lawyer suggested an alternative approach to the case.

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5. The use of alternate or alternative in the following sentence is correct. There were two alternates available in case of jury tampering or medical emergencies.

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6. True/False: The use of alternate or alternative in the following sentence is correct. She wants to alternate taking depositions to speed up the discovery timeline.

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7. The use of alternate or alternative in the following sentence is correct. The alternate is to send a cease-and-desist letter first.

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8. True/False: The use of alternate or alternative in the following sentence is correct. The alternate narrative spun by plaintiff could not be farther from the truth.

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9. True/False: The use of alternate or alternative in the following sentence is correct. We need an alternate if the jury doesn't buy the wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time narrative.

10 / 10

10. True/False: The use of alternate or alternative in the following sentence is correct. We used to alternate carpooling to work.

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