Almost vs. Nearly

“Almost” means practically the same thing as “nearly,” and in most cases they are interchangeable.

Almost means very nearly but not exactly or entirely.

Nearly means almost but not quite, but its primary meaning has more to do with proximity, i.e., in a close manner or relationship.

Many dictionaries define these two words using the other word, which means they are basically synonymous. However, “almost” is used more than twice as often as “nearly,” which implies that nearly is more specialized in its usage. Nearly is also used more often in the news media, according to one university study.

Almost is typically followed by adverbs.

Examples: almost always, almost certainly

Nearly is usually followed by numbers.

Example: Nearly 72,000 people attended the Texans playoff game Sunday

Nearly is often used in the following construction: not nearly as [adjective]

Example: He’s not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.

Here’s a suggestion: If you have used a lot of “almost” words on a single page, you can change things up a bit by using “nearly” a few of those times.

Quote of the Day
“Action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often.”

– Mark Twain, American author and humorist, 1835-1910


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