The Difference between Alone and Lonely

Hi dear English learners! Have you ever wanted to be alone because you needed some time for yourself? Has there been another occasion when you longed for someone’s company and felt lonely? I get this question a lot so I thought it wouldn’t be a bother to explain the difference between alone and lonely. Both words are adjectives and  I’ve seen them considered synonymous in many dictionaries but they happen to be quite different.  Let’s look at their meanings.

The Difference between Alone and Lonely


This one’s easy. If you don’t have company, then you are alone. Being alone is neither a positive nor a negative state. The synonymous words and phrases are: on your own, by yourself, solo.  

For example:

  • Samantha was sitting alone on the bench, reading a newspaper.
  • John has always been fond of travelling alone
  • Peter left, leaving his dog all alone in the apartment.
  • Mary brought up three children alone, without anybody’s help.
  • Our dad went out, leaving the two of us alone in the room.


Unlike the adjective alone, which is neutral, the adjective lonely has a negative connotation. If you are lonely, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are alone.  A lonely person can feel unhappy and sad in a crowd of people because they miss their friends or family. Or, they can also feel lonely in the presence of their loved ones because they’re feeling distant from them. The synonyms of lonely are: isolated, abandoned, desolate, lonesome.

For example:

  • Tara has been feeling lonely ever since her husband passed away.
  • His life abroad was so lonely because his friends and family were not with him.
  • After he admitted that he was cheating on her, she began to feel betrayed and lonely.
  • Although he lived alone, Mark never felt lonely because he had so many friends.
  • After the children left home, she felt quite lonely at times.

The Difference between Alone and Lonely

Alone vs lonely – what’s the difference?

To some up, let’s say in a few words what’s the difference between the words alone and lonely. Alone is a physical state of being without other people around. There are no emotions attached to the word alone. You can be alone without feeling lonely. However, you can be in other people’s company and feel lonely because you miss someone or feel abandoned, so the word lonely describes an emotional state.

Both alone and lonely can refer to people and things.

For example:

  • Last month alone the video made 30,000 views.
  • She couldn’t stand living in that lonely place any longer.


The noun loneliness refers to the state of being lonely.

For example:

  • After two years of living there, the refugees in the camp developed feelings of loneliness and depression.
  • People who experience loneliness tend to become anxious and introverted.
  • It wasn’t easy for her to face the loneliness of everyday life and be motivated at work.
  • Mary was an elderly lady who kept a cat for a company against loneliness.


Lonesome is another word for “lonely”, very common in American English. It means the same as lonely.

  • Jill felt a bit bored and lonesome when her husband began to work abroad.
  • It must be sad and lonesome being the only person fighting for the truth.
  • The thought of her cheerful youth made her feel lonesome.
The Difference between Alone and Lonely
The Difference between Alone and Lonely

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