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  1. Newbie
    Student or Learner

    • Join Date: Dec 2007
    • Posts: 7
    #1

    Smile alternate/alternative

    If you don't have your staff ID you can use your alternative/alternate photo ID.

    please explain which on is correct and why?


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 19,434
    #2

    Re: alternate/alternative

    alternate = (of two things) each following and succeeded by the other in a regular pattern.

    alternative = (of one or more things) available as another possibility.

    In AmE, they are interchangeable.

  2. #3

    Re: alternate/alternative

    In British English they really aren't interchangable at all. In this sentence, only 'alternative' is acceptable.

    'alternate' is the same as 'every other' - for example,

    The magazine is published on alternate months. (January, March, May etc)
    He travelled to work by bike or car on alternate days (so Monday, he went by car, Tuesday by bike and so on...)

    'alternative' is used to mean 'offering something different' - so, for example,
    'When I went to the bookshop, they didn't have any Oxford dictionaries, but the shop assistant offered me a Longman dictionary as an alternative.'

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Portuguese
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 274
    #4

    Re: alternate/alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by Clare James View Post
    In British English they really aren't interchangable at all. In this sentence, only 'alternative' is acceptable.

    'alternate' is the same as 'every other' - for example,

    The magazine is published on alternate months. (January, March, May etc)
    He travelled to work by bike or car on alternate days (so Monday, he went by car, Tuesday by bike and so on...)

    'alternative' is used to mean 'offering something different' - so, for example,
    'When I went to the bookshop, they didn't have any Oxford dictionaries, but the shop assistant offered me a Longman dictionary as an alternative.'
    Thanks for the explanation. It was very helpful.

  3. #5

    Re: alternate/alternative

    There is in theory a difference between the two words, but it's a difference that most English speakers wouldn't pay much attention to.

    There are other pairs of words that are different in the dictionary but used interchangeably by most speakers:
    uninterested--disinterested
    continuous--continual
    may--can
    will--shall

    But actually, it would be better modern English to say:
    "If you don't have your staff ID you may use other photo ID."

    Wishing you success
    edward

    Quote Originally Posted by jkl View Post
    Thanks for the explanation. It was very helpful.

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