Do you usually say "the sky is partially cloudy" or "the sky is partly cloudy"? Are they both correct? Is there any difference between "partly and partially" in the last sentence? Is there any difference between "partly" and "partially" in general? They both sound natural to me.

  • 1
    Go for minimalism! The sky is part-cloudy. Seriously, partly is fine, but partially is a bit ott in this context. Apr 5, 2017 at 17:52
  • To my ear/mind "partially cloudy" would refer more readily to a haze or filtered sunshine, a different sort of cloud pattern than big bright white cumulous clouds dotting a bright blue sky for partly cloudy...although I think partly cloudy is used commonly for both sorts of days.
    – Tom22
    Apr 5, 2017 at 18:41
  • See this Google ngram: books.google.com/ngrams/… "partly" is far more common.
    – Barmar
    Apr 5, 2017 at 18:42
  • 2
    Weather forecasters only use "partly" cloudy, they never say "partially cloudy. However, they are rarely right about the weather, so that casts doubt on everything they say. On that basis, alone, I'm starting to wonder about "partially".
    – fixer1234
    Apr 5, 2017 at 19:34
  • "Partly cloudy" is idiomatic in the US for describing weather.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 5, 2017 at 19:43

2 Answers 2



in some degree



pertaining to a part


The bottom line is partly cloudy is an idiomatic phrase. Whatever its drawbacks, it's been in use for quite a while and does roll off the tongue quite naturally.

  • Interestingly, the normal way (in U.S. TV meteorologist patois) of describing a shift in weather from "overcast" (that is, completely cloudy) to "partly cloudy" is by using the term "partial clearing."
    – Sven Yargs
    Apr 5, 2017 at 21:26

Partly cloudy means that the sky has some cloudy parts and some not cloudy parts.

Partially clouded over means that after starting out clear, there was a transition and the blue sky has been gradually, but not completely, obscured by developing (or entering) clouds.

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