One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
‘Alternate’ or ‘alternative’?
They meet on alternate Sundays.
or ‘(of two things) each following and succeeded by the other in a regular pattern’, as in:
Alternate layers of potato and sauce.
Alternative means ‘available as another possibility or choice’, as in:
Some European countries follow an alternative approach.
In American usage, however, alternate can also be used to mean ‘available as another choice’, for example:
An alternate plan called for construction to begin immediately rather than waiting for spring.
This American use of alternate is still regarded as incorrect by many people in Britain.
Back to Usage.
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