Difference Between Alter and Update

Main Difference – Alter vs Update

Alter and update are two verbs that have very similar meanings. In general usage, both verbs can give the meaning to change something. However, there is a vital difference between alter and update. Alter generally means to make a slight change whereas update means to change something by adding recent information. Therefore, the main difference between alter and update is that update refers to an addition of modern and recent things whereas alter simply refers to a small change.Difference Between Alter and Update - infographic

Alter – Meaning and Usage

Alter refers to a slight change in character or composition of something. Altering can make something different without changing into something else. For example, changing the size of a dress so that it will fit better is known as altering. Here, only a slight change is done to the dress; it is not turned into something else.

Alter can be used generally used as a synonym for change. You can observe the usage of alter in the following sentences.

He was persuaded to alter his testimony.

My grandmother altered her will after my uncle’s untimely death.

You’ll have to alter this dress before the ceremony.

This drug can alter a person’s mind.

They had to alter their plans because of her decision.

Even the slightest contact with water can alter the color of this paint.

Difference Between Alter and Update

Update – Meaning and Usage

Update means to change something by making it modern or adding recent information. It can be defined as making something more modern or suitable for use by adding new information or changing its design. For example, the software in your computer keeps updating. Update can also refer to giving someone new and recent information. 

Update can be used as a verb and a noun. The following examples will help you to understand the usage of update better.

I have to update my address book.

She updated me on the progress so far.

A new update for Windows 10 was released yesterday.

He decided that all the information on his site need to be updated.

Michelle wanted to update her wardrobe.

Employee records are continually updated and reviewed. 

Main Difference - Alter vs Update

Difference Between Alter and Update


Alter means to make a slight change.

Update means to make a change by adding current information.

Current Information

Alter does not imply an addition of new information.

Update implies an addition of current information.

Grammatical Categories

Alter is mainly a verb.

Update can be used as a noun and a verb.


Alteration is the noun of Alter.

Update is the noun of Update.

Image Courtesy:

“Alter” (Public Domain) via Pixbay

“Update” (CC BY 2.0) via Got Credit 

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.