difference between mostly and largely

popri

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2006
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Japanese
Home Country
Japan
Current Location
Japan
Hi.
A non-native friend says that ‘largely’ talks about how big the item is and ‘mostly’ talks about how many items there are. Is that true?

Here is an example sentence: The team consists largely of high school students. In this case, are largely and mostly interchangeable?

Thank you.
 

Rover_KE

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
England
Current Location
England
1. No.

2. Yes: also 'mainly or 'chiefly'.
 

popri

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2006
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Japanese
Home Country
Japan
Current Location
Japan
Thank you for teaching.
How can I use these two words differently? I have no idea which one and when I should use.

Here is another example sentence.
The students learning Japanese in this school are mostly from Asian countries.
In this case, can I use largely instead of mostly?
 

Rover_KE

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
England
Current Location
England
Yes. They both mean 'to a great extent'.
 

jutfrank

VIP Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
England
Current Location
England
I make a subtle distinction here. Others may not. But anyway, this is how I would suggest using these similar words differently:

Use mostly to talk about the greatest part of a whole. If there's a team and nine out of eleven members are highschool students, then I would say

The team consists mostly of highschool students. (Nine is the greatest part of eleven.)

mostly is good when the idea is of quantity. A synonym could be for the most part.


Use largely when the idea is of degree. A synonym could be to a large degree.

The book is largely based on a true story.
It's largely a matter of taste.
He failed largely because of his pride.
 

popri

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2006
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Japanese
Home Country
Japan
Current Location
Japan
Thank you for explaining. The examples are great help.
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
Please leave threads open. They will close automatically if no one replies after some time, but leaving them open allows other people to add things, and they may have something to say. Thanks.
 
Top