What’s the difference between lonely and alone?
For Spanish speakers “alone” and “lonely” are two words that can cause confusion since often they translate as the same solo.
We can only tell by the context of the phrase if we’re talking about somebody travelling alone, home alone, enjoying his time alone and therefore, the state of being alone. Or rather, if somebody is feeling lonely, living a lonely life or getting lonely from time to time, especially when they are alone (loneliness, a different type of soledad).
As you might see already, in English, the differences between the two couldn’t be more obvious. Being alone is a just a temporary circumstance. For most of us, we pass the majority of our time surrounded by other people, friends, family, co-workers, even strangers in the street. That’s the reason we might relish being alone and not having anyone around us every once in a while; finally getting some peace and quiet on an afternoon we spend completely by ourselves. Just think of the movie “Home alone” and how excited Kevin got in the moment he realized he had the whole house to himself. We can all relate, remembering that feeling of being over the moon after our parents had left the house and we were finally alone.
On the other hand, loneliness is a state of mind. You can feel lonely and miserable even when you’re among other people. Sometimes it’s because you’ve been alone for too long and other times you just feel an ache in your heart and a feeling that something is missing in your life. In this case, regardless of who you’re with, you might not be able to shake that feeling. It helps however, to talk to other people about how you’re feeling when you get lonely.
What we shouldn’t do is just assume that somebody feels lonely after they’ve just broken up with their partner or if they’ve been single life for a long time. This is not always the case. Just listen to what Kelly Clarkson had to say in the lyrics of her hit “Stronger”, a song written after a breakup from her boyfriend:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
It doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
And if you’re still in doubt regarding these two words or there are other questions you might have, don’t hesitate to ask us in the comments below. At Lewolang we’re always delighted to help.