How to Use Otherwise in a Sentence

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  • 0:03 Otherwise
  • 0:25 Conjunctive Adverb
  • 1:25 Adverb
  • 1:46 Adjective
  • 2:06 Implying Truth
  • 2:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Otherwise' is a versatile word that can be used in different scenarios as either an adverb or an adjective. In this lesson, we'll examine the proper use of the word 'otherwise.'


What are some proper ways to use the word 'otherwise'? Otherwise is commonly used as an adverb that means 'or else,' 'except that,' or 'in another way,' but it can also be used as an adjective meaning 'in another scenario.' Let's look at some specific examples that illustrate how this word can be used.

Conjunctive Adverb

One of the first ways that 'otherwise' is used is to describe cause and effect situations.

For example:

  • You need to finish your homework; otherwise, you will not make a passing grade.

  • Jaimie needs to clean her room; otherwise, she will not be allowed to have her friends come over.

Did you notice the semicolons (;) in these sentences? The semicolon is used because in these examples, the word 'otherwise' is used as a conjunctive adverb. Conjunctive adverbs connect two independent clauses.

Another option is to divide the two clauses into two sentences.

For example:

  • You need to finish your homework. Otherwise, you will not make a passing grade.

  • Jaimie needs to clean her room. Otherwise, she will not be allowed to have her friends come over.

The meaning and even the words that are used remain the same. It is only the punctuation that changes as these examples are changed from one sentence to two.


'Otherwise' can also be used as an adverb that means 'differently.'

For example:

  • Zachary likes his algebra teacher. Do you feel otherwise?

  • Students must pass the end of year test or otherwise demonstrate proficiency in reading.

When used in this capacity, no special punctuation is needed.


'Otherwise' may also be used as an adjective to describe a difference.

For example:

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