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Usage Glossary: A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y


Alternate as an adjective means "substitute" and implies second choice of two. (As a verb, pronounced differently, alternate means "to move back and forth.") Alternative may be either an adjective or a noun and means "one among several."

Small lithium batteries will provide an alternate source of energy, should the solar panels fail. [adjective]

Lithium batteries are an alternative form of energy that may be used in extremely cold environments. [adjective]

We needed to find an alternative. [noun]

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