Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Word grammar: otherwise

Type: Article

Read Tim Bowen's latest article on word grammar, otherwiseyou'll miss valuable guidance on how to use this popular adverb!

The adverb otherwise can be used in a number of ways. It is used for saying if one thing does not happen or is not true, something else will happen, usually something bad, e.g. 'I hope the weather improves. Otherwise, we will have to cancel the picnic'.

Similarly, it is used when you are trying to show that something must be true by saying that the situation would be different if it was not true, e.g. ‘ Of course they are friends. Otherwise they wouldn’t be going on holiday together’ or 'He must be able to drive. Otherwise he wouldn’t have passed his driving test’. In the above examples, otherwise could also be used at the end of the sentence, e.g. ‘He wouldn’t have passed his test otherwise’.

When used to mean in a different or opposite way from what has been mentioned, otherwise is used in final position: ‘I intend to remain here until someone tells me otherwise’. It can also be used to mean ‘apart from that’, as in ‘Both players suffered bruising but were otherwise unhurt’ and ‘There is a slight problem with the air conditioning but otherwise the room is fine’.

It can also be used in the expression or otherwise to mean ‘or the opposite’, e.g. ‘There will be no surprises – pleasant or otherwise’, and to show that someone has another name or title, as in 'Marshall Mathers III, otherwise known as Eminem'.

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