With almost identical spelling and pronunciation, is there really that much of a difference between altogether and all together? It turns out there is. And it’s not a matter of preference, either. Here is a brief definition for each and how to use them properly.
Altogether: in total, completely, entirely
You would only use this word as an adverb (one of few adverbs that don’t end in “-ly”). It is typically used to describe something broadly or absolutely, like in these examples:
After the accident, she had to stop skiing altogether.
The book wasn’t altogether enjoyable, so I have no hope for the movie.
All together: all in one place, all at once
Conversely, you would use this phrase in any other non-adverb instance. Specifically, when you want to describe people or objects together in space and/or time. You could even separate the two words within a sentence. Take a look at these examples below:
Let’s gather for a silly picture! All together now!
We will all meet together at the movie theater.
Hopefully, this helps clear up the confusion between altogether vs. all together. It isn’t altogether difficult to understand. We just have to all learn and review it together. Overall, knowing the difference can help enhance your authority as a writer. Check out our other Grammar Time posts to learn more quick grammar tricks.