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Here's the sentence:

"As the year was coming to an end, NEARLY anyone doubted that either William or Philippa would win the prize while the other would come in second."

I don't see why we use 'nearly' in it, I suggest 'hardly'. Please help me with this, I'm really puzzled. Thank you.

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  • Who's the 'we' who uses 'nearly' in this context? I agree: it's wrong, sounds odd, and 'hardly' makes sense. Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 10:03
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    I expect this sentence was created when somebody tried to change "nearly no one" to "hardly anyone", and only partly succeeded. Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 10:59
  • It's from an exercise book; 'nearly' stands as the right answer. I don't remember the other choices in this particular exercise (there are 4 of them), but between 'hardly' and 'nearly' I would definitely choose 'hardly'. Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 18:57
  • "...The chosen theme for the prize essay that year was “Satire in Shakespeare”. Troilus and Cressida clearly called for the most attention, but both students managed to find satirical nuances in almost every play by Shakespeare. As the year was coming to an end, __ anyone doubted that either William or Philippa would win the prize while the other would come in second. However, no one was willing to express an opinion as to who the victor would be." Here's a bit of context, if it's important Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 19:01

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You're right, Hardly is probably the better word to use here. I don't even believe it's a proper use of nearly.

"As the year was coming to an end, hardly anyone doubted that either William or Philippa would win the prize while the other would come in second."

Nearly suggests "close to," or "near to." The context in which the word is being used is not typical. Saying we are "nearly there" suggests that we are very close while "hardly there" suggest barely there, or "only just slightly there." While one says we have almost arrived the other says we're not even close.

"I was nearly asleep" as opposed to "I was hardly asleep." They're quite different.

They are nearly opposite words, and hardly the same.

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