I'm looking for an adverb for describing "changing between A and B repeatedly and subsequently". (I'm not sure I used the word "subsequently" correctly.)

For example, Amy and Bob needs to press the button in this order

... => Amy presses => Bob presses => Amy presses => Bob presses => ...

So we can say that "Amy and Bob presses the button _____".


Alternate, Alternating and in your case Alternatingly which is synonymous with "taking turns".

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  • If two buttons A and B need to be press like ...=>A=>B=>A=>..., can I say "A and B needs to be pressed alternatingly"? Because "taking turns" seems not used for non-humans. – Vito Chou Nov 15 '18 at 9:55
  • Yes, "taking turns" is most commonly used to describe human interactions, but can be applied to animals or machines who do things in an alternating fashion. "The male and female birds take turns sitting on the egg" instead of "The male and female birds sitting on the egg alternatingly". – Maria Nov 15 '18 at 15:15
  • I am doubtful. I checked several reputable online dictionaries: Oxford, Collins, and Macmillan. None of these have "alternatingly". If you are sure this is actually the right answer, I think you should explain why lexicographers are not listing it. – MetaEd Nov 16 '18 at 18:01

Alternately is what you're looking for. It means "in alternating sequence or position".

Don't confuse this word with "alternatively", which means "as different choice to". (e.g., "They could take the money now, or alternatively bet it on the next race")

Normally, you'd place "alternately" ahead of the verb, as so:

  • Amy and bob alternately press the button.

(Note that you have to use the plural of the verb when you have a plural subject such as "Amy and Bob")

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  • 2
    In North American usage, the NOUN Alternate is used to define a person who is a substitute, backup, or the second option. "If the Quarterback breaks his leg, who is the alternate?" Thus, 'Alternately' will be forever confused with the quality of being a substitute or second option. Whereas, Alternatingly more precise and is not as easily confused with the property of the NOUN Alternate. – Maria Nov 15 '18 at 18:57
  • +1, Good to know, thanks. "Alternate" is not used as a noun in British English ("alternative" is used in a similar sense, though), and the American usage you've described would be considered odd or even incorrect to British English speakers. – KrisW Nov 15 '18 at 20:51

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