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I was searching the meanings of these two words:

alone and solo

And, (according to the source), both shares the same meaning:

alone; without other ​people.

Both words sounds for me interchangeable in usage "speaking, writing, etc".

As the title says: what is the difference between solo and alone? and there are rules for the usage of each one of them?


The answer should show references and example usages for learning purposes (i.e: for get a better understanting about its usage).

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They have similar meanings, but they are not used in the same semantic contexts, and they cannot both be used in all the same syntactic contexts.

  • solo is mostly used to speak only of actions; alone is also used to speak of anything physically isolated.

  • solo can be used as a noun ("a drum solo") or verb ("Rich soloed the third chorus"); alone cannot.

  • solo is used as an attributive adjective before its head noun ("a solo performance"); alone is used as an attributive adjective after its head ("John alone was successful").

  • alone can be used as an adjectival predicate complement ("Amy was now alone"); solo is very rarely used this way.

It is really only as adverbs that their uses overlap: "John acted alone", "John acted solo".

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Both mean a singular person, by themselves.

Solo is usually used when doing something active: solo effort, singing a solo, solo competition. Alone is usually used when doing something inactive: sat alone, went alone.

But the lines can often blurred with the two usages and meanings.

One would say solo effort not alone effort, or all alone but not all solo (unless it was a collection of soloists).

Solo has the feeling of being singular in effort (with a crowd watching and/or involved), whereas alone has the feeling of being solitary (with no one watching):

The concert hall was filled for the Yo-Yo Ma's solo recital.
The farmer sat in his field alone as the storm gathered.

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