‘Alone' vs 'Lonely': What's the Difference?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on January 13, 2023

'Alone' vs 'lonely': two words that are close in meaning. But they're not exactly the same and should be used in different circumstances. In this article, you'll learn when to use each one.

In short, 'alone' describes your physical circumstances, and 'lonely' expresses a feeling.

Difference Between 'Alone' vs 'Lonely'

Though these two words are adjectives and both contain the word "lone," they're not synonymous in meaning. Read on to learn the definition of 'alone' vs 'lonely.'

'Alone' Definition

The word 'alone' describes a physical state. That is to say; when you are alone, there is nobody with you; you are not in the company of another person.

It can also mean "the only one." For example, if you alone know the combination to the safebox, that means you are the only one who knows it.

It can be an adjective or an adverb, depending on its placement in the sentence.

The noun for 'alone' is "aloneness," but it is rarely used.

'Lonely' Definition

'Lonely,' on the other hand, describes a feeling. It means that you are feeling isolated or unsupported. You could be lonely while having company.

The noun for 'lonely' is "loneliness."

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Alone'

Now that you know what each word means, you might want to know how to pronounce them correctly.

According to the International Phonetic Alphabet, the word 'alone' is pronounced like this:


And when you say it, it sounds like this:


Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Lonely'

As for the word 'lonely, the International Phonetic Alphabet, the word 'alone' spells it like this:


And when you say it, it sounds like this:


When to Use 'Alone' vs 'Lonely'

It's time to look at the words used in a sentence. This will help you understand them in context and know when you should use each one. We'll start with 'alone:.'

No, I don't have a plus one. I choose to go to the wedding alone.

What is he doing out there alone in the middle of the night?

You alone can help her now.

My dog doesn't like being left alone.

After alienating all his friends, he found himself all alone.

And now some examples of 'lonely' in a sentence:

He's feeling really lonely since he and Adam broke up.

I was in a room full of people, yet I felt the most lonely I've felt in a long time.

It's a lonely world out there.

Of course you're lonely, all your kids have moved out, it's entirely normal.

He recounted his lonely childhood to the therapist.

Final Thoughts on 'Alone' vs 'Lonely'

So there you have it, 'alone' and 'lonely' are two very similar words with different meanings. Remember, one describes a physical state, and the other depicts a feeling.

If you'd like to learn more confusing words, visit our blog today. We have plenty of articles on there that we're sure you'll find very helpful.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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