In my recent paper, there a question:

"When you read something in a foreign language, you frequently come across words you do not______understand."

A. totally B. completely C.wholly D. fully

My answer is B, but the right answer is D.I've tried look up the difference between "completely" and "fully", but their meanings all sound the same! Could you guys explain it for me?

  • 1
    All the answers seem fine on the face of it (apart from C being capitalized). Perhaps there is more context around the question which you have not included, which would favour one answer over another. Jun 20, 2016 at 14:17
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    What was the question exactly? All options are correct (although I'm not fond of 'totally' here).
    – tjalling
    Jun 20, 2016 at 14:17
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    Looks like this question has been causing confusion for some years - see here and here. All conclusions appear to reflect what's been said here (although I lean towards wholly for some reason). Jun 20, 2016 at 14:26
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    Per this NGram, fully is far more common for this exact context. But there's no real difference in meaning between the choices - it's just a matter of established idiomatic preference. Jun 20, 2016 at 14:51
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    When you sit some exams, you frequently come across questions you do not______understand. The fault quite possibly lies with the examiners. Jun 20, 2016 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


As the ngrams from FumbleFingers show fully is more common. Although the aggregated feel for language of all commenters agrees that all are acceptable.

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