Alternate-alternative

The difference between the words “alternate” and “alternative” is a HUGE difference.

Alternate means to change about by turns, such as “He sees his children on alternate weekends.”  Or: “As the sheep come through, take every alternate sheep.”

But alternative means a choice between things, such as “He chose the alternative to a sure death.”  Or: “We had no alternative but to give in.”  Sure, people mix-up these words all the time, like “bought” and “brought”.  But to mix up alternate and alternative is unforgivable for a journalist.  Your editor would roll his eyes and ask himself: “What other dumb mistakes are in this article?  Can I be bothered to check everything?  Or shall I chuck this in the bin and move on to some other freelancer’s submission?”

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