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In editing science papers, I routinely come across the phrase "Altogether, these results suggest that..." I have changed it to "All together" because it seems to me that the phrase is referring to considering all of the results together. But I have seen "Altogether" so many times that I decided to look it up again, and now I am unsure. Perhaps the meaning is "All in all, these results suggest that..."

The examples I have seen in Garner's and Grammar Girl don't really match this situation. For example, "Altogether, I have too many socks" vs "My socks are all together in my dresser."

I am still leaning toward "All together" because it is modifying "these results" whereas in the example of "altogether" above, it is modifying "I have".

Or perhaps because it is ambiguous, I should leave it as is?

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  • Yes, the sense of 'altogether' is 'all in all' or 'considered as a whole'. 'All together' would not be used to begin a sentence. Nov 13, 2018 at 19:30
  • "All together", said the singing tutor to the class, "and put your hearts into it!" Nov 13, 2018 at 19:44
  • All together or separately are alternative ways of considering a group of things or people. Nov 13, 2018 at 20:52

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Altogether would be more correct in your context. You're saying that [as a whole/all in all/in total/etc.], the stated results suggest something. Altogether is therefore serving as an adverb to "suggest." This article by Grammarly provides a good delineation of the two. Also see the following dictionary definitions for altogether: American Heritage, Merriam-Webster, Cambridge.

The separated term, All together, denotes more of a grouping of discrete items than a conglomerate set of things. Some examples: "We were all together in the same place for the first time since 1995"; "After I raked the leaves all together, a strong gust of wind reversed my progress."

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  • Thanks, the grouping vs conglomerate is useful. So is "Together, these results suggest..." correct?
    – Alice T
    Nov 14, 2018 at 22:55
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    That would sound odd to me because the together seems a bit ambiguous standing on its own. I would want to add a clear verb before it, such as "Taken together, these results..." or, as the American Heritage Dictionary uses in its fourth definition for together, "Regarded collectively; in total: She is worth more than all of us together; Considered together, the proposals made little sense." (emphasis mine). I think Altogether is the most precise word for this context. Nov 15, 2018 at 16:15

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