Difference Between Alternate and Equivalent (With Table)

Alternate and Equivalent are two words, in which the former denotes an alternative for something, while the latter denotes something that is similar to it. These two are very perplexing. It is, however, simpler to spot when employed appropriately in a sentence. The majority of things have alternates or substitutes, as well as equivalents of similar features. When we don’t have any other options, alternates and equivalents come in handy.

Alternate vs Equivalent

The main difference between Alternate and Equivalent is that alternate and equivalent is that alternate refers to a second option or choice, whereas equivalent refers to an item or person that shares the same traits as the original. Alternate, on the other hand, can be used as a noun, verb, or adjective.

‘Alternate’ is a word that can be used as an adjective, a noun, or a transitive verb. When the term alternate is employed, it might refer to something that occurs in a sequence of events. Alternate can also be used in place of something else. When a person or thing is chosen to take the place of another in the absence of that person or thing, alternate is used as a noun. Alternate can also be used interchangeably with equivalent. The alternate is a less preferable substitution in general.

‘Equivalent’ can also be used as an adjective. Equivalent refers to something that is the same in terms of value, quantity, and application. It’s on par with the original. When something is the same or equal, the word equivalent can also be used as a noun. Equivalents are always preferred since they have the same value or function as the original. It has the same impact as the original. It provides a comparable number and quality alternatives.

Comparison Table Between Alternate and Equivalent

Parameters of ComparisonAlternateEquivalent
Definition A person or item functioning as a substitute, or anything that happens every other day or second, is referred to as an alternate. Equivalent means the same in terms of amount, value, function, and meaning. It also refers to a person or item that is the same in terms of value, amount, and meaning as another.
AntonymComplementary is the antonym. The antonyms are different and dissimilar.
SynonymThe synonyms are substitute, replacement, and alternative. The synonyms of equivalent are equal, similar and identical.
NatureThere may be a variety of options and possibilities, which may or may not be equal.In terms of quantity or quality, there should be an equal number of possibilities.
ExamplePencil can be used as an alternate for a pen.Mango jam and other types of jam can be equivalent to each other.

What is Alternate?

Alternate has a wide range of applications. Alternate comes from the Latin word ‘altern’, which means “to change.” It was first used around 1505-15. It has the ability to function as a noun, a transitive verb, and even an adjective. When used as an adjective, it refers to a choice between two or more options. As a synonym for equivalent, alternate might be used.

The term alternate refers to something that is used instead of the conventional. One that substitutes for the other is an alternate. Simple examples for alternate are, we took an alternate road to get to our destination faster.

When alternate is used as a verb without an object, it can refer to something that alternates with one another on a regular basis in place or time. When it’s used with an object, though, it can imply that it’s interchanging regularly and doing things one after the other. For example, while drawing, he alternates between using a pencil and a pen.

When the ‘alternate’ is an adjective, it denotes anything that occurs or exists on a regular basis. Eg:- she goes to the library on alternate days, i.e Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Learning about the usage of alternate is very simple.

What is Equivalent?

An equivalent is an adjective that describes something of equivalent value, utility, or power. The equivalent can be a good substitute. Equivalent means almost equal. The equivalent can be used in place of another and will perform as well as the original.

The equivalent can be used as a noun as well. When used as a noun, it can refer to something that is similar and suitable as a substitute. For example, I couldn’t obtain the ice cream I wanted, so I brought something equivalent. We can use equivalent as an adjective in a sentence like she has an equivalent job. Equivalent numbers of molecules are also employed in chemistry when chemical combining capabilities are the same and they react chemically.

In mathematics, equivalent equations and equivalent sets are also utilised. Identical, equal, and same are synonyms of Equivalent. Equivalent also refers to something that is similar in size, shape, and function. In general, you can claim two things are equivalent; if they are fundamentally the same.

Main Differences Between Alternate and Equivalent

  1. As a substitute, alternate provides various possibilities, however equivalent must have identical features and attributes to the original.
  2. While substituting, alternate may have an influence on functionality, however, functionality will not be affected in equivalent.
  3. Alternate can have both joyful and unhappy outcomes, whereas equivalent will always produce satisfying outcomes.
  4. Alternate always provides a large number of options since we can choose between several possibilities, however, equivalent does not provide a large number of options because we are looking for something with similar features.
  5. A good example for alternate is, A pen can be used as an alternate for a pencil, however, a cello pen or other sort of pen can be used as an equivalent to pen.


Alternate and Equivalent are words that can be used to describe anything that is comparable or the same as something else. However, when using alternate and equivalent, one must be very careful because if one uses alternate instead of equivalent, the meaning of the statement may change.

Despite the fact that these words are synonyms, they have diverse meanings and applications. Alternate can be an adjective, a noun, or a transitive verb, and in some cases, it can be used as a synonym for equivalent. It is preferable to use equivalent rather than alternate when referring to something that is equal, has the same effect, or is substantially comparable. Because the equivalent is more or less identical to the original, alternate is a less preferable substitution.

An alternate is essentially a replacement option for anything. For eg, a Cellphone as an alternate to the laptop. While equivalent is more comparable to the original and shares almost all of its traits.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/088761779090018K
  2. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja9006113