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  1. #1
    Allen165 is offline Key Member
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    Default Purposefully vs. Purposely

    "Usage: Purposefully is sometimes wrongly used where purposely is meant: he had purposely (not purposefully) left the door unlocked." (Source: purposeful - definition of purposeful by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia..)

    I don't think it would be wrong to write, "He had purposefully left the door unlocked."

    Here's what Bryan A. Garner has to say about "purposefully" and "purposely."

    "Something done purposely is done with intent, on purpose <the defendant purposely ran the red light>. Something done purposefully is done with a definite purpose in mind <the stalker purposefully collected information about the model>." (Source: The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style, 2nd ed., p. 265.)

    So leaving the door purposefully unlocked would mean leaving it unlocked with a specific purpose in mind. That purpose could be to allow someone to enter the house, but we don't know what the purpose is. In other words, "purposefully" tells us that the act itself - leaving the door unlocked - might not be the ultimate purpose. "Purposely" doesn't provide this piece of information. Do you agree?

    Thanks!

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    Allen165 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Purposefully vs. Purposely

    Anyone agree or disagree?

    Thanks a lot!

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    Verona_82 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Purposefully vs. Purposely

    Jasmin,
    I'm not a native and seems like you can help me a lot more than I can help you, but I've translated both into my language and I see the difference, which I find very subtle. I feel that 'purposely' is the same as 'deliberately, intentionally' whereas 'purposefully' is close to "full of determination". I can imagine myself walking out of a room purposefully and leaving the door open purposely. I'd be interested to find out what what others think about it.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Purposefully vs. Purposely

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    Anyone agree or disagree?
    My personal view is that 'purposeful' is a useful adjective, but that the meanings of 'purposefully' overlap those of 'purposely' to such an extent, that I am sometimes not sure whether the writer has used the former intentionally and correctly.

    I do not agree with the thoughts you expressed in the last paragraph of your first post. To me, 'purposefully' does not work with leaving a door unlocked.

  5. #5
    Allen165 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Purposefully vs. Purposely

    Quote Originally Posted by Verona_82 View Post
    Jasmin,
    I'm not a native and seems like you can help me a lot more than I can help you, but I've translated both into my language and I see the difference, which I find very subtle. I feel that 'purposely' is the same as 'deliberately, intentionally' whereas 'purposefully' is close to "full of determination". I can imagine myself walking out of a room purposefully and leaving the door open purposely. I'd be interested to find out what what others think about it.
    I realize that "purposefully" and "purposely" are not identical in meaning. In fact, I described what I see as the difference between the two words in my first post.

    I would add that anything done purposefully is also done purposely, and vice versa.

  6. #6
    Allen165 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Purposefully vs. Purposely

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    My personal view is that 'purposeful' is a useful adjective, but that the meanings of 'purposefully' overlap those of 'purposely' to such an extent, that I am sometimes not sure whether the writer has used the former intentionally and correctly.

    I do not agree with the thoughts you expressed in the last paragraph of your first post. To me, 'purposefully' does not work with leaving a door unlocked.
    Could you explain why "purposefully" doesn't work with leaving a door unlocked?

    I tried to explain why I think it should work. Why is it possible to purposefully collect information about someone, but not to purposefully leave a door unlocked?

    Perhaps there aren't any rational reasons for the distinction between the two words.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Purposefully vs. Purposely

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    Could you explain why "purposefully" doesn't work with leaving a door unlocked?

    I tried to explain why I think it should work. Why is it possible to purposefully collect information about someone, but not to purposefully leave a door unlocked?
    I don't know if I can explain clearly - which is why I did not respond to your original question for over twelve hours. I was hoping somebody else might have the answer.

    Most of us collect a certain amount of information about people we meet. We don't do this purposely, it just happens. One trivial example: I know that one of the nurses who looked after my son recently has a son who speaks English. We might say that we acquire this information almost accidentally (a possible antonym of 'purposely').

    There are certain prying people who deliberately collect information about others, they do it purposely. There is no real purpose in this collection (unless they are potential blackmailers, spies, informants, etc); we might say that they collect it purposelessly (a possible antonym of 'purposefully).

    The people who organised the recent census in the UK collected information purposefully - they (claim they) need this information in order that the goverment can decide on certain policies.

    As far as leaving the door unlocked/open, I can't do better than Verona: I feel that 'purposely' is the same as 'deliberately, intentionally' whereas 'purposefully' is close to "full of determination". I can imagine myself walking out of a room purposefully and leaving the door open purposely.

  8. #8
    Allen165 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Purposefully vs. Purposely

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    There are certain prying people who deliberately collect information about others, they do it purposely. There is no real purpose in this collection (unless they are potential blackmailers, spies, informants, etc); we might say that they collect it purposelessly (a possible antonym of 'purposefully).
    That's where we see things differently. Doing something purposely means wanting to do it, and if you want to do something, you must have a purpose. I don't think it's possible to want something without having a purpose. The act of accomplishing that something can be the purpose itself or one of the purposes.

    He broke the glass purposely = he wanted to break the glass; breaking the glass was his purpose

    He broke the glass purposefully = he wanted to break the glass; breaking the glass was his purpose; he may have had a superior purpose in mind in doing so (e.g., seeing someone cut himself on a piece of glass)

    I am probably overinterpreting, but I cannot identify any mistakes in my reasoning.

  9. #9
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purposefully vs. Purposely

    I am probably overinterpreting, but I cannot identify any mistakes in my reasoning.
    I do not claim that there are any mistakes in your reasoning. I just feel that the adverb 'purposefully' is probably not commonly used with the difference you feel. Indeed, I don't feel that my example about the census is particularly natural.

    I also feel that in your example with the the glass, " 'purposefully' is close to 'full of determination' ", as Verona put it.

    However, I suggest we stop here. I am definitely talking about 'feeling' rather than watertight definition, and will never convince you on that basis. Actually, I am not trying to convince you at all, just explain why, for me, 'purposefully' does not work with leaving a door unlocked.

  10. #10
    Allen165 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Purposefully vs. Purposely

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I am definitely talking about 'feeling' rather than watertight definition, and will never convince you on that basis. Actually, I am not trying to convince you at all, just explain why, for me, 'purposefully' does not work with leaving a door unlocked.
    That is the crux of this "debate." I don't believe the distinction between "purposely" and "purposefully" should be based on feeling; it should be grounded in logic, at least primarily.

    Many things in the English language are not logically explicable. The use of prepositions, for example, is often not governed by logic. But this isn't one of those things. If you introduce a distinction in meaning between two words, the distinction has to be clear and logical enough for people to be able to tell the two words apart. Otherwise, the utility of the distinction is questionable. The fact that many people get the distinction wrong in the case of "purposely" and purposefully" is, I think, indicative of the faultiness of the distinction.

    I'm sorry for making this post, but I just wanted to clarify my position. You don't need to reply.

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