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What is the difference between consequently and consequentially?

My usage being what it is, and also according to the dictionary sample sentences I've found so far (thank you for the helpful comment @Thomas), I think they can be used interchangeably, usually intended to mean "As a consequence [of some action described in the preceding sentence], ...".

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What do dictionaries say? –  Patrick87 Jul 26 '11 at 22:15
    
The dictionary says they're the same thing, only different. Seriously -- look it up -- about the only clear difference I can find is that the '...ially' form is said to be rare. I'm interested to know about correct usage -- because the 'rare' claim doesn't hold true, at least for my environemnt -- folks use it all the time. –  kuru kuru na... Jul 26 '11 at 22:27
    
oic. Well if the people around you normally say it, you could just ignore the advice in my answer about avoiding it. You could try pointing out that it's not exactly the standard form for many others, but since it is at least "technically valid", people might not thank you for criticising the way they speak! –  FumbleFingers Jul 26 '11 at 22:45
    
@FumbleFingers -- true enough! I won't criticize the way anyone speaks. (I need to be about 6 inches taller before I can think about getting away with that sort of thing.) But I appreciate your answer -- the 'indirect result' implication was something new. –  kuru kuru na... Jul 26 '11 at 22:51
    
If you need help remembering it, just think about the related/opposite word "inconsequential" (which will also remind you about the "importance" meaning). –  FumbleFingers Jul 26 '11 at 22:55
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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I have to say first that consequentially is a pretty rare word. My advice would be to steer well clear of it, because nearly every time you use it, people will assume you're making a mistake and that you should have used consequently.

In principle consequentially does overlap in meaning with consequently, in that they can both mean as a result [of whatever has just been mentioned], but consequentially has more the implication of an indirect result.

Also note the usage A man of consequence, meaning an important man. In my experience, this meaning is never implied by consequent or consequently, but it often is by consequential (and presumably consequentially, but I must be honest and say I myself am not very familiar with that form at all).

It may be helpful to consider the common negated form inconsequential (normally meaning trivial, having no significant consequences, but sometimes also applied to things that do not logically follow from what's just been said).

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Thanks @FumbleFingers -- that's kind of what I thought -- I'd found one reference that said that the adjective form could connote important, or alternatively pompous or self-important. As for the adverb form, I just can't find any clear difference other than one is said to be rarely used. –  kuru kuru na... Jul 26 '11 at 22:44
    
@kuru kuru na... Here's an NGram showing usage for the longer form virtually 'flatlines' against the standard one. But the indirect result is definitely a significant semantic difference, and that's the meaning you'll often find if you browse some of the written occurences. –  FumbleFingers Jul 26 '11 at 22:52
    
That is awesome. Thank you! –  kuru kuru na... Jul 26 '11 at 22:55
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The word "consequentially" is standard in British English, and is correct.

In American English they take the easy way out, and use "consequently" when they are not sure whether they should be saying "consequentially" or "consequently".

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