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about near / nearly

Someone told me that according to an English dictionary,
( I don't know an exact name of the dictionary, he didn't mention it.)
both "nearly" and "near" can be used as a meaning of "almost".

adverb: (of actions or states) slightly short of or not quite accomplished; `near' is sometimes used informally for `nearly' .
- cited in unknown English dictionary-

I have thought that " near twenty years" is a wrong expression.
It is requred to change into "nearly twenty years", I believed.

According to the dictionary, "near" is used informally instead of "nearly" .

What does it mean ,"informally used expression"?

The phrase "near 20 years" is a good expression enough for TOEFL or TOEIC level examination?

How about "nearly equal level" and " near equal level"?
Are both acceptable for an English text for non-native?


Casiopea said:
Here's a site that may be of interest to you. 8)

near or nearly?

When you get to the page, scroll down. Look for the heading, near or nearly. :D

Yes, I have visited there and read all of it.

Therefore, "near equal" "near finished" is not correct, is it?

Please answer that.

If I'm wrong, please clearly explain it to me.

And, when I look up a word in a dictionary, I sometimes see a word "informal" beside a word.
If a word is informal, what should I do with the word?
Should I use the word carefully or
is it not good to use an informal word in formal writing like a school paper, or business document, something like that?

Please advise me about that.
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