English may be a funny language but repeating some of the most commonly confused English words and phrases is no joking matter: it make the difference on an English exam or even a job interview. Here are a few commonly mistaken words that are made by natives and learners alike:
“Already” is one word (an adverb) that means previously or by the same time. When it is used properly is clearly demonstrates a sequence of events over time. For example, in the sentence “we had already discussed the matter but she kept bringing it up” you can see that the matter was discussed in past (that is, already discussed) although she continues to mention it in the present. By contrast, the two word phrase “all ready” simply means completely ready. Sentences that use “all ready” – like “we were all ready to go to the play” – do not involve actions over time and simply show that everyone in a group (that is, “all”) are ready to go.
“Altogether,” which means completely or totally, is, like “already” an adverb. It is used when you want to evaluate or discuss something as a whole instead of as parts. Thus the sentence “altogether the bill came to $24.59” means that each individual item in the bill, when added up, totaled $24.59. By contrast, “all together” means “at the same time” and, as the following example shows, is used completely differently: “They jumped out of the plane all together.”
All right/A lot
Finally, even though we often see “alright” and “alot” written as one word, they should in fact always be separated. The single word variations are used “a lot” but do not exist, are not “all right” to use, and might even keep you from landing the job of your dreams!