Commonly Confused Words: All Ready vs. Already

Even though I didn’t get much sleep last night and have already been working all morning, I am still motivated to write this article. Having turned on the space heater in my downstairs office and put on my hooded sweatshirt, I am all ready to get back to work and explain how to use all ready vs. already

All Ready vs. Already at a Glance

*All ready is an adjectival phrase that means either an entire group is prepared collectively, or someone or something is prepared completely.

*Already is an adverb that describes an action that occurred in the past or something that happened sooner than expected.

What Is the Difference Between All Ready and Already?

When you look at all ready and already, there are apparent differences between the two. All ready is a two-word phrase while already is one word. You also define already differently than all ready. They serve different functions in a sentence, with already being an adverb referring to the time of an occurrence and all ready being an adjectival phrase describing a state of preparedness.

Things become trickier when speaking and listening. All ready and already are homophones, meaning that they sound identical when pronounced aloud. Depending on the context and the rhetorical intent, sometimes people put a short pause between the two words of the phrase all ready, but it is common for people to slur them together. Though not incorrect, this can become confusing. Knowing which spelling to use when writing can also be challenging.

When To Use All Ready

All ready has two meanings. It can either indicate a complete state of preparedness, or it can indicate that all members of a group are prepared. In either case, all ready can refer to the preparedness of people, animals, or inanimate objects.

Examples of using all ready in a sentence:

  • Once loaded into her carrying crate, my cat was all ready to go to the vet’s office, but she wasn’t happy about it.
  • The children were all ready to go caroling around the neighborhood.
  • After applying mosquito repellent and sunscreen, in that order, I was all ready to go hiking.
  • The cooked turkey was all ready for Thanksgiving dinner.

When To Use Already

The word already also has two meanings, both having to do with time. It refers to a task that has been accomplished in the past, sometimes at a given time. It also refers to an event that occurred unexpectedly soon.

Examples of using already in a sentence:

  • already took the turkey out of the oven at 11:00 a.m.
  • It already gets dark at 5:00 p.m. after Daylight Savings Time ends.
  • The children had already finished brushing their teeth before I had chosen a bedtime story to read to them.

Tips To Help With Correct Usage of All Ready vs. Already

One way to determine whether to use all ready vs. already is to substitute synonyms for each. If you can use ready or prepared in its place, you would use all ready, whereas if you can sub in so soon or before now or at a particular time, you would use already. You can also say the sentence you want to write out loud or in your mind, putting a slight pause between the first and second syllables. If it makes sense that way, you probably want to use all ready instead of already. Of course, you can also think about how the word or phrase functions in the sentence. If it is describing one or more people or objects, you want the adjectival phrase all ready, but if it is an adverb modifying a verb, adjective, or another adverb, use already. In the comments, please share with us any other tricks you use to tell these commonly confused words apart.

Cara Secrist
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