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  1. Lenka's Avatar

    • Join Date: May 2004
    • Posts: 863
    #1

    almost, hardly/scarcely any..., nearly

    "Hardly/scarcely any (-thing, body...)" is used in a negative meaning:
    Hardly anybody watches TV at 3 o'clock in the morning.
    (right?)

    While "nearly" is used in a positive meaning:
    nearly one million people

    Here comes my question:
    In which meaning (positive, negative, neutral) is used the word "almost"?
    Is it possible to say both "There were almost no people." and "There were almost one hundred people."?


    (By the way, feel free to correct my English - I like to be (or "being"?) corrected! )

    • Member Info
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      • English
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      • England
      • Current Location:
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    • Join Date: Feb 2005
    • Posts: 2,585
    #2

    Re: almost, hardly/scarcely any..., nearly

    Hello Lenka,

    For me, "nearly" and "almost" point to the near-reality of the statement, whereas "hardly" points to a quite different reality. Cf.

    1. I was nearly hit by a bus.
    2. I was hardly hit by a bus.
    3. I was almost hit by a bus.

    4. I nearly won the lottery.
    5. I hardly won the lottery.
    6. I almost won the lottery.

    Thus in #1, the accident might have happened; but nothing hit the speaker.

    In #2, however, something hit the speaker; but it wasn't anything as serious as a bus. (You might say #2 in a slightly irritated fashion, if a small child on a tricycle ran into you, and a passer-by expressed extreme concern.)

    In #5, on the other hand, the speaker won something; but perhaps only 5 (certainly not the lottery).

    So for me, nearly/almost aren't quite as symmetrically related as the positive/negative distinction would suggest.

    Other members may have other views, though!

    Best wishes,

    MrP

  2. engee30's Avatar
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      • Native Language:
      • Polish
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      • Poland
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    • Join Date: Apr 2006
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    #3

    Smile Re: almost, hardly/scarcely any..., nearly

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    "Hardly/scarcely any (-thing, body...)" is used in a negative meaning:
    Hardly anybody watches TV at 3 o'clock in the morning.
    (right?)

    While "nearly" is used in a positive meaning:
    nearly one million people

    Here comes my question:
    In which meaning (positive, negative, neutral) is used the word "almost"?
    Is it possible to say both "There were almost no people." and "There were almost one hundred people."?


    (By the way, feel free to correct my English - I like to be (or "being"?) corrected! )
    This is all that I can provide you with, lenka.

    When used as adverbial modifiers, almost (and not nearly) can modify adverbs ending in '-ly':
    I used to drive to work almost/nearly every day.
    'Never again, do you understand?' he said almost angrily
    (not nearly angrily) to her.

    It is unusual if you say that one thing/person is nearly like another - use the adverb almost in that case:
    Kathy is almost like her mother in every respect, I would say.

    You can use almost (and not nearly) in front of negative words, e.g. never or nothing:
    She almost never spoke to her elder sister after she (i.e. her sister) got divorced.

    But there is one exception to this rule - we can use nearly after not to emphasise a negative statement:
    The building is not (nearly) big enough to house as many as 200 people.
    The strange thing is that you can't use almost in this case.

  3. Lenka's Avatar

    • Join Date: May 2004
    • Posts: 863
    #4

    Re: almost, hardly/scarcely any..., nearly

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post

    1. I was nearly hit by a bus.
    2. I was hardly hit by a bus.
    3. I was almost hit by a bus.
    Is there a difference in meaning between the first and the third question? I gues there is no difference, is there?

    In #2, however, something hit the speaker; but it wasn't anything as serious as a bus. (You might say #2 in a slightly irritated fashion, if a small child on a tricycle ran into you, and a passer-by expressed extreme concern.)
    Aaaah... Thst' is important to know. It's a big difference! Thanks for the explanation!

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    But there is one exception to this rule - we can use nearly after not to emphasise a negative statement:
    The building is not (nearly) big enough to house as many as 200 people.
    The strange thing is that you can't use almost in this case.
    Engee, thank you very much for your contribution (to this "discussion"). It has helped me a lot and it is quite claryfying the subject . (can I say it like this or does it sound weird? Could someone tell me, please? + Could you correct everything I write?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    (By the way, feel free to correct my English - I like to be (or "being"?) corrected! )
    Which one is correct, then? to be or being?

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