Commonly Mistaken Words: Are we already all together?

letters bw 162048450English 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/All ready
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/All together
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!

Commonly Mistaken Words: Its/It’s, Your/You’re, Their/They’re, and Whose/Who’s

asian woman confused122576781We live in a world where we drive on parkway and park on driveways so it should come as no surprise that English is a confusing language. Fortunately, we are here to help with a few tips that should help clear up some of the mystery around a few of the most easily confused words in English: Its/It’s, Your/You’re, Their/They’re, and Whose/Who’s

Though it may seem confusing, you can prevent yourself from confusing one for the other by remembering this simple rule: an apostrophe (the ‘ symbol) with a pronoun – as in it’s – always means it is replacing a missing letter in a contraction.


“It’s” should never be used in the same place as its similar sounding cousin “Its” – which, as this exact sentence shows, is used to show possession. After all, you would never say “the dog lost it is bone” not only because it sounds silly but also because in that example the bone belongs to (is “possessed by”) the dog and we should therefore use the possessive pronoun.

Your/You’re and Their/They’re

All of the other possessive pronouns are spelled without an apostrophe – consider mine, yours, his, hers, theirs, and so on – so it only makes sense that its follows the same rule. At the same time, this simple rule helps us to understand some of the most easily confused words in English. Following this same reasoning, we can see that you’re literally means “you are” – you would never say “You are brother is nice” when we meant “Your” – and, likewise, they’re always means “they are.”*


Finally, “who’s” is also a contraction – one that means who is or who has – while “whose” is another possessive pronoun (as it, “Whose car is that?”). So, in the end, you can see that it’s as easy as pie to prove you’re an English champ!

* Confusion around the word “there” is easy to clear up for deferent reasons: it is related to the word “here” and always refers to position, no matter how similar it sounds!